Winner of the 2021 Reviewers Choice Gold Award for Best Novel
In a cruise ship stateroom, a soul awakens in the afterlife, still dressed in the Roman servant garbs of his previous life. He can’t remember much, but a silent woman stands out in his memory: his first and only love. Unable to cope with an eternity without her, he leaps from the ship and back into the depths of the life stream.
Five hundred years later, he awakens again in the same stateroom, alone and fueled with new memories of her. In his past lives she was a male insurgent, an elderly wise woman, an unruly servant. For a millennia the pair are tethered together, clashing in love and fear, betraying each other in times of war and famine. Before memory drives him mad, he vows to rescue her from the stream — even if it takes a thousand lifetimes more.
March 2020 from Westphalia Press; Cover art by Shyama Kuver.
“A defiant and tender call for the power of love, across a thousand lifetimes and lands. Guillermo’s imagination is breath-taking, and he shows the power of the written word as at once the most high-fidelity and stylized of mediums.”
—Ken Liu, author of The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and The Grace of Kings
“In All Flowers Bloom, Kawika Guillermo has achieved an ambitious feat: to chronicle a memory—and its vast empire of battles and love, constant guises and surprises—that spans over four thousand years through a narrator who, like the beloved, is blessed, or cursed, with hundreds of lives, each rebirth announcing a different milieu, a different role. One of this daring book’s themes is desire as reincarnation redux! With its crisp prose and continual shifts in time, place, and of narrator’s gender, I could not help but compare it to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. But this novel does more than that, for at its core, is a lover’s discourse on desire, its multiple masks and power to make lovers and strangers, and traitors and rescuers out of us.”
—R. Zamora Linmark, author of Rolling the R’s and Leche
“All Flowers Bloom is a beguiling book, with an inventive narrative unlike anything I have encountered before. This is an emotional journey through lifetimes and loves and losses. Kawika Guillermo delivers wonderment and surprise, a complex universe, and an unforgettable cast of characters.”
—Doretta Lau, author of How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?
“Guillermo dazzles, delights, and damns the reader to a plethora of corporeal festivities, metaphysical epiphanies, and cautionary tales at the rate of our feverish consumption towards our insatiable desires. All Flowers Bloom is an unapologetic discussion in analyzing the human condition, giving it room to grow and also outlining our many mistakes.”
“Guillermo successfully gives 187 our core narrator a singular voice despite them changing gender, time and ethnicity. 187 gets to be oppressed and oppressor, warrior and slave, rich and poor. It’s that interesting perspective which for me was the driver as each chapter gave me something new to explore as well in the past remind us how humanity soars and falls and making the realistic prediction we probably will continue to meander on that path – not getting wiser just living and trying to love…Guillermo has a fascinating, vivid style that really makes the settings come alive.”