When demolition begins on a nearby tenement, the Guerreros are forced to reimagine their life in Nothar Park, the predominantly Dominican part of New York City where they have lived for the last twenty years. The family fragments—the elder, Eusebia, scheming to stop construction, the daughter, Luz, distracted by a sweltering romance with the developer, and the father, Vladimir, secretly scheming to retire in the Dominican Republic. PEN awardee Cleyvis Natera’s debut novel, Neruda on the Park, is a long-awaited interrogation of the pressures of gentrification, and what happens when the forces of ambition uproot a long-settled family tree.
Natera joined Kirkus Prize finalist Naima Coster in conversation, unpacking this electric debut and interrogating the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most.
Neruda on the Park
By Cleyvis Natera
Published by Ballantine Books
The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer of the company her mother so vehemently opposes.
As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar Park, racing towards a near fatal climax.
A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most, announcing Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice.
Cleyvis Natera was born in the Dominican Republic, migrated to the U.S. at ten years old, and grew up in New York City. She holds a BA from Skidmore College and an MFA from New York University. Her writing has won awards and fellowships from PEN America, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Kenyon Review’s Summer Writers Workshops, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She lives with her husband and two young children in Montclair, New Jersey. This is her first novel.
Photo Credit: Beowulf Sheehan
Naima Coster is the author of two novels, What’s Mine and Yours, an instant New York Times bestseller, and her debut, Halsey Street, which was a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Fiction. Naima’s stories and essays have appeared in Elle, Time, Kweli, the New York Times, the Cut, the Sunday Times, Catapult, and elsewhere. In 2020, she received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 honor.
Naima has taught writing for over a decade in community settings, youth programs, and universities. She currently teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Antioch University in L.A. She occasionally writes the newsletter, Bloom How You Must. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.