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Cover of A Good Map of All Things by Alberto Rios
September 2020
University of Arizona Press

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A Good Map of All Things

A Picaresque Novel
Alberto Ríos

In Alberto Álvaro Ríos’s new picaresque novel, momentous adventure and quiet connection brings twenty people to life in a small town in northern Mexico. "A Good Map of All Things" is home to characters whose lives are interwoven but whose stories are their own, adding warmth and humor to this continually surprising communal narrative. The stories take place in the mid-twentieth century, in the high desert near the border — a stretch of land generally referred to as the Pimería Alta — an ancient passage through the desert that connected the territory of Tucson in the north and Guaymas and Hermosillo in the south. The United States is off in the distance, a little difficult to see, and, in the middle of the century, not the only thing to think about. Mexico City is somewhere to the south, but nobody can say where and nobody has ever seen it.

Ríos has created a whimsical yet familiar town, where brightly unique characters love fiercely and nurture those around them. The people in "A Good Map of All Things" have secrets and fears, successes and happiness, winters and summers. They are people who do not make the news, but who are living their lives for the long haul, without lotteries or easy answers or particular luck. Theirs is the everyday, with its small but meaningful joy. Whether your heart belongs to a small town in Mexico or a bustling metropolis, Alberto Álvaro Ríos has crafted a book that is overflowing with comfort, warmth, and the familiar embrace of a tightly woven community.


Alberto Ríos, a Regents Professor of English and University Professor of letters, directs the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU, where he holds the Katharine C. Turner Chair in English.

Praise for this book

“The people in this fictional town are weird, funny, beautiful, and they do crazy things. They remind me of my own family, and I can’t help but to love them. Alberto Ríos is a great storyteller.”

Daniel Chacón
Author of "Kafka in a Skirt"

“Ríos takes us to a home we’ve never been properly introduced to until now. Community activates through the sum of its parts, and though not always predictable as the stars, each of Ríos’s characters’ contributions is as necessary as the sun.”

Bryan Allen Fierro
Author of "Dodger Blue Will Fill Your Soul"