"I love the native race with a tender love, and so I have observed its customs closely, enchanted by their simplicity, and, as well, the abjection into which this race is plunged by small-town despots, who, while their names may change, never fail to live up to the epithet of tyrants. They are no other than, in general, the priests, governors, caciques, and mayors." So wrote Clorinda Matto de Turner in Aves sin nido, the first major Spanish American novel to protest the plight of native peoples.
First published in 1889, Birds without a Nest drew fiery protests for its unsparing expose of small town officials, judicial authorities, and priests who oppressed the native peoples of Peru. Matto de Turner was excommunicated by the Catholic Church and burned in effigy. Yet her novel was strongly influential; indeed, Peruvian President Andres Avelino Caceres credited it with stimulating him to pursue needed reforms.
In 1904, the novel was published in a bowdlerized English translation with a modified ending. This edition restores the original ending and the translator's omissions. It will be important reading for all students of the indigenous cultures of South America.
"This emended translation of Latin America’s first indigenista novel (Aves sin nido, 1889), written by Peruvian feminist Matto de Turner, is welcome for many reasons.... It deserves a reading now more than ever, as Latin American literature reaches its maturity, and as social struggles in the Hispanic new world continue with the intensity and irresolution of two centuries."