Lucio Seguila lives on a tiny island in the middle of the Rio Grande, which he claims is independent from both the United States and Mexico—convenient for a coyote guiding illegal immigrants across the border. He rules this small kingdom, República Libre de Seguilandia, in a firm but generous patriarchal style, sitting on his La-Z-Boy and enjoying the devotion of his three daughters, the companionship of his grandson, and a reluctant partnership in the criminal forays of his amoral son-in-law. Yet, Seguila and his family cannot escape the rush of the Rio Grande and the unusual gift it brings them.
In the wake of an unexpected flash flood, Simon Tucker, an American teenager who nearly drowns while on a marijuana border run, washes up on the shores of Seguilandia. Severely battered during the violent storm, Simon awakes to find that he has not only lost his memory but must fulfill the various contradictory expectations of his newfound family. Considered an angel, a long-anticipated boyfriend, and a high-stakes kidnap victim, the confused youth steals their serenity, the love of the youngest daughter, and eventually the life of the family patriarch. But even as the family is destroyed, we discover the seeds of its rebirth in a future that combines the swirling cultures that have disastrously collided.
1998 Minnesota Book Award for a Novel Winner
“Introduce a cast of individuals, each of whom has a story, then create the context for their paths to merge. A novel concept? Or the idea behind a novel? George Rabasa’s Floating Kingdom details the unlikely coupling (no sex…yet) between a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Texas teen and a Mexican family living—literally—in the middle of the Rio Grande. . . . Each person has a different take—depending on his or her individual story. One thing is certain: Family dynamics will never be the same. Rabasa strings a novel out of the disparate perspectives his characters hold. And the read is drawn into the story, curious about how it will end. Is there a better reason to read a book?” —Cyns Nelson, Bloomsburg Review
“It is a fascinating story of lives and love shared, shattered, lost, and ultimately found again. Rabasa accurately portrays border culture that is neither Anglo nor Mexican, and in the process, explores major differences as well as universal similarities. Rabasa knows both sides of border issue very well. He is a fine writer and a great storyteller. This first novel is a winner.” —Multicultural Review