Photo of Marisel Vera

Made Local

Marisel Vera


“Subtle yet arresting, The Taste of Sugar, is a gorgeous feat of storytelling. Marisel Vera melds meticulous research with deep compassion and pure talent to fashion a novel that excavates the pain of the history while drawing hope from the buried stories of our nation. This is historical fiction as its best, using the moral dilemmas of the past to decipher our present conflicts in order to light our way toward a more just future.”

Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage

Marisel Vera in conversation with writer Adriana E. Ramirez

It is 1898, and groups of starving Puerto Ricans, los hambrientos, roam the parched countryside and dusty towns begging for food. Under the yoke of Spanish oppression, the Caribbean island is forced to prepare to wage war with the United States. Up in the mountainous coffee region of Utuado, Vicente Vega and Valentina Sanchez labor to keep their small farm from the creditors. When the Spanish-American War and the great San Ciriaco Hurricane of 1899 bring devastating upheaval, the young couple is lured, along with thousands of other puertorriqueños, to the sugar plantations of Hawaii—another US territory—where they are confronted by the hollowness of America’s promises of prosperity. Writing in the tradition of great Latin American storytelling, Marisel Vera’s The Taste of Sugar is an unforgettable novel of love and endurance, and a timeless portrait of the reasons we leave home.

Marisel Vera emerges as a major voice of contemporary fiction with this heart-wrenching novel. A proud Boricua, Vera is the author of If I Bring You Roses, and the two-time winner of Willow Review’s fiction prize. She lives in Chicago and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.



Signed copies of The Taste of Sugar are available for sale online from White Whale Bookstore.

Book Cover for The Taste of Sugar


Thursday, June 25, 2020


Virtual Event
Free, with registration


Upcoming Lectures

Anna Monardo

MAY 23

Colm Toibin

SEP 16

Pico Iyer

SEP 30

Heather Cox Richardson

OCT 28