“The Man Who Could Move Clouds is the work of a genius, a wildly moving, profound, groundbreaking, often hilarious book that I’ll reread until I die. . . Without knowing it, I’ve wanted this book my whole life.” —R. O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries
From the author of the critically acclaimed novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree, comes a dazzling, kaleidoscopic memoir reclaiming her family's otherworldly legacy.
For Ingrid Rojas Contreras, magic runs in the family. Raised amidst the political violence of 1980s and ‘90s Colombia, in a house where “what did you dream?” was the preferred greeting in place of “how are you?,” very little was out of the ordinary. Her maternal grandfather, Nono, was a renowned curandero, a community healer gifted with what the family called “the secrets:” the power to talk to the dead, tell the future, treat the sick, and move the clouds. As a young girl Rojas Contreras spent her days eavesdropping on her mother’s fortune-telling clients and eagerly waiting for the phone calls from relatives reporting that her mother’s apparition had, yet again, visited them thousands of miles away from where Mami stood in the family’s kitchen.
So when Rojas Contreras, now living in the United States, suffered a head injury in her twenties that left her with amnesia—an accident eerily similar to a fall her mother took as a child, from which she woke not just with amnesia, but also the ability to see ghosts—the family assumed “the secrets” had been passed down once again.
Spurred by a shared dream among Mami and her sisters, and her own powerful urge to relearn her family history in the aftermath of her memory loss, Rojas Contreras joins her mother on a journey home to Colombia to disinter Nono’s remains. With her mother as her unpredictable, stubborn, and often hilarious guide, Rojas Contreras traces her lineage back to her Indigenous and Spanish roots, uncovering the violent and rigid colonial narrative that would eventually break her family into two camps: those who believe “the secrets” are a gift, and those who are convinced they are a curse.
Interweaving family stories more enchanting than those in any novel, resurrected Colombian history, and her own deeply personal reckonings with the bounds of reality, Rojas Contreras writes her way through the incomprehensible and into her inheritance. The result is a luminous testament to the power of storytelling as a healing art and an invitation to embrace the extraordinary.
"This is a memoir like no other . . . Ingrid Rojas Contreras has given us a glorious gift with these pages." —Patricia Engel, author of Infinite Country
About the Author
INGRID ROJAS CONTRERAS was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Her debut novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree was the silver medal winner in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, and a New York Times editor's choice. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Believer, and Zyzzyva, among others. She lives in California.
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Entertainment Weekly and Bustle
"The Man Who Could Move Clouds is the work of a genius, a wildly moving, profound, groundbreaking, often hilarious book that I’ll reread until I die. Ingrid Rojas Contreras's history of her family and their power, ferocity, and formidable love knocked me sideways with joy and awe. Without knowing it, I’ve wanted this book my whole life."—R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries
"The Man Who Could Move Clouds is a memoir like no other, mapping memory, myth, and the mysteries and magic of ancestry with stark tenderness and beauty. A dreamlike and literal excavation of the powers of inheritance, Ingrid Rojas Contreras has given us a glorious gift with these pages."—Patricia Engel, author of Infinite Country
"The title, The Man Who Could Move Clouds, is not some magical-realism fancy. Ingrid Rojas Contreras is talking the real stuff, taking you into the curandero’s world. Tell yourself as you read, this is non-fiction. You will believe. And then your questions will begin."—Luis Alberto Urrea