🏆 2022 BIBA® General Fiction Winner!
In the Land of the Feathered Serpent is the story of a young man in his 20s, fresh out of graduate school and feeling quite confident about the direction his life was to take. Instead, however, the bright but naïve young biologist, with an outsized libido and hypersensitive nose, unexpectedly finds himself on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery, transformation, and enlightenment. Dr. Odel Bernini’s journey becomes a Homeric adventure, set in the context of America’s meddling in Central America in the 1980s. In the end, the young scientist discovers that life is far more complicated than he ever imagined. With the help of an extraordinary woman first seen in his dreams, he is pulled from one life into another, discovering that a world of mysticism exists next to the silo of science in which he had been trapped. On his journey, he explores timeless questions around love, passion, trust, and friendship, as well as the dark heart and bright hope of humankind.
The story pays homage to Homer’s Odyssey (and James Joyce’s Ulysses), and many of the characters in the three novels are one and the same. As in The Odyssey, Feathered Serpent begins in the middle of the tale and then flashes back to fill in significant prior events. Odel Bernini’s journey takes place both in the physical terrain and in the landscape of his mind as he travels through the lowland jungles of the Petén rainforest and the 10,000-foot-high sierras of Guatemala’s Maya realm. Odel gets caught up with dirty politics and the CIA, is seduced by a dark siren, is nearly killed by a Cyclops, is swept into the world of Maya mysticism, and finds guidance in the words of five wise and strong women. The facts, places, and most characters in the story are real; the political details and timing are accurate. Odel Bernini and his close friends are, however, purely fictional.