The Last Karankawas
A blazing and kaleidoscopic debut about a tight-knit community of Mexican and Filipino American families on the Texas coast from a voice you won't soon forget.
Welcome to Galveston, Texas. Population 50,241.
A popular tourist destination and major shipping port, Galveston attracts millions of visitors each year. Yet of those who come to drink by the beach, few stray from the boulevards to Fish Village, the neighborhood home to individuals who for generations have powered the island.
Carly Castillo has only ever known Fish Village. Her grandmother claims that they descend from the Karankawas, an extinct indigenous Texan tribe, thereby tethering them to Galveston. But as Carly ages, she begins to imagine a life elsewhere, undefined by her family’s history. Meanwhile, her boyfriend and all-star shortstop turned seaman, Jess, treasures the salty, familiar air. He’s gotten chances to leave Galveston for bigger cities with more possibilities. But he didn’t take them then, and he sure as hell won’t now. When word spreads of a storm gathering strength offshore, building into Hurricane Ike, each Galveston resident must make a difficult decision: board up the windows and hunker down or flee inland and abandon their hard-won homes.
Moving through these characters’ lives and those of the extraordinary individuals who circle them, The Last Karankawas weaves together a multitude of voices to present a lyrical, emotionally charged portrait of everyday survival. The result is an unforgettable exploration of familial inheritance, human resilience, and the histories we assign to ourselves, reminding us that the deepest bonds are forged not by blood, but by fire.
By Kimberly Garza