“I learned to read between the lines”: A conversation with Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

We had the privilege of speaking to a veteran of historical fiction, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, whose pioneering novels have put Afro-Latinx history on the literary map. The 2009 hardcover edition of Daughters of the Stone was listed as a 2010 Finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. In this interview, she tells us more about her inspirations, the power of historical fiction, its demands on the writing process, and her forthcoming novel.

Daughters of the Stone is a pioneering debut in Afro-Puerto Rican historical fiction

Published in 2009, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s Daughters of the Stone is finalist for the PEN/Robert Bingham fellowship and a pioneering example of recent trends in Black historical fiction. Divided into five sections each named after a new focaliser, this multigenerational tome begins the moment Fela arrives at a Puerto Rican sugar plantation. All these stories culminate in that of Carisa, a disillusioned writer who voyages back to West Africa in order to learn the truth about her people.