The Names of Heaven

Flavia Idà

One man. An extraordinary choice.

In 1511 a Spanish ship en route from the island of Hispaniola sank off the coast of Yucatan near the town of Tulum. The survivors were captured by the Maya; these were the first white men ever to set foot on the mainland of the American continent, and the first white men the Maya had ever seen.

Among the castaways was Gonzalo Guerrero, a sailor from Palos. After he was captured, he lived among the Maya as a slave for three years. He then escaped from his master and sought the protection of Lord Nachancan, ruler of Chetumal in Belize, who made him a free man. Gifted with a fine military mind, Gonzalo quickly rose to become Nachancan’s war captain; he married Nachancan’s sister and had three children with her. This was the first European-American family; it was the founding of the Mestizo race, and it changed the face of the New World.

In 1517 the conquistador Hernando Cortez came to bring Gonzalo back to the Spaniards, offering him a position of high power among his countrymen. The decision Gonzalo took then was the only one ever taken by a white man in the conquest of the Americas, and it made him a hero.

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About The Author

Flavia Idà

Flavia Idà

Flavia was born and raised in Arena, a medieval hill town in Calabria, the ancient "instep" of the Italian Peninsula, and studied Classics and European Literature at the University of Naples. She wrote her first short story when she was 12, and ever since then, writing has been the most important thing she does.

When she was 28, she came to live in San Francisco, where she learned English by watching children's television programs with her son Adam, then four years old. She loves English as much as she loves Italian, for different reasons but in the same measure. She writes in English and in Italian, she thinks in English and in Italian, and she dreams in English and in Italian.

In 1984, she graduated Summa Cum Laude in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, where she also got her Master's Degree. The six years at SFSU were without a doubt the happiest of her life; she remembers those long hours spent in the library with books as a wonderful time spent with dear friends.

From a student of Creative Writing at SFSU she went on to become a teacher of Creative Writing, a most rewarding job where she met many young people with a true gift for writing. She was the recipient of the Emily Dickinson Award sponsored by the Poetry Society of America. She has taught Italian at the Italian Institute of Language and Culture in San Francisco and in several other schools throughout the Bay Area.

She has also worked for many years as a translator and consultant for the Italian Consulate General, specializing in Citizenship applications; another rewarding job where over her fourteen years she has helped hundreds of people of Italian descent reach their goal of reconnecting with the land of their ancestors. She lives in Pacifica, California, right at the edge of the ocean where the continent ends.

She can be found at Flavia's Voice.

4 reviews for The Names of Heaven

  1. J Dark

    The Names of Heaven is a amazingly detailed story about a forgotten bit of history that we would do well to remember. Flavia does an awesome job intertwining history with the story. It’s well worth a read.”

    J Dark, author of Sometimes After Dark and the “Glass Bottles” series

  2. Dianne Hales

    The Names of Heaven is a compelling feat of writing. Novelist Flavia Idà brings to vivid, pulsing life the true story of Gonzalo Guerrero, the courageous survivor who founded the first European-American Family in 16th century Yucatan and a new race in whose veins, as the author puts it, ‘ran the blood of a man whom God had let fall off the edge of the world and fished back up on the other side.’ A meticulously researched look into the ancient Maya world and an absorbing, rousing tale of peoples and places caught up in the sweep of history.”

    Dianne Hales, author of La Bella Lingua and Mona Lisa, a Life Discovered

  3. Adnan Aydin

    “Sets a new standard for novelized biography. A brilliant, captivating and meticulously detailed book that makes you think the author was there as an eyewitness to the times, the places and the people in the story.”

    Adnan Aydin, Ph.D.

  4. Daniel J. Langton

    “The hero of the story would have liked this retelling of his life. With a remarkable bounty of details we are carried smoothly along an ever-widening river spanning twenty years, and everything coheres. Each step brings new adventure, new layers of power and new planes of meaning. Compelling, an attention-grabber from the first page.”

    Daniel J. Langton, author of Querencia and During Our Walks

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