Thanks to Life

A Biography of Violeta Parra

By Ericka Kim Verba

Thanks to Life

Approx. 448 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 29 halftones

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-8295-2
    Published: January 2025
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-8294-5
    Published: January 2025

Paperback Available January 2025, but pre-order your copy today!

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Chilean musician and artist Violeta Parra (1917–1967) is an inspiration to generations of artists and activists across the globe. Her music is synonymous with resistance, and it animated both the Chilean folk revival and the protest music movement Nueva Canción (New Song). Her renowned song "Gracias a la vida" has been covered countless times, including by Joan Baez, Mercedes Sosa, and Kacey Musgraves. A self-taught visual artist, Parra was the first Latin American to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts in the Louvre. In this remarkable biography, Ericka Verba traces Parra's radical life and multifaceted artistic trajectory across Latin America and Europe and on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

Drawing on decades of research, Verba paints a vivid and nuanced picture of Parra's life. From her modest beginnings in southern Chile to her untimely death, Parra was an exceptionally complex and talented woman who exposed social injustice in Latin America to the world through her powerful and poignant songwriting. This examination of her creative, political, and personal life, flaws and all, illuminates the depth and agency of Parra's journey as she invented and reinvented herself in her struggle to be recognized as an artist on her own terms.

About the Author

Ericka Verba is professor of Latin American studies at California State University, Los Angeles.
For more information about Ericka Kim Verba, visit the Author Page.


"A stunning achievement. This comprehensive analysis of Parra's life provides an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate one of Latin America's greatest artists. Thanks to Life is an outstanding piece of biographical work on a world-class artist whose legacy continues to shape Latin American music and culture."—Heidi Tinsman, author of Buying into the Regime: Grapes and Consumption in Cold War Chile and the United States