Contact: Yasmin Tirado-Chiodini, email: Yasmin@Tirado-Chiodini.com, Website: www.AntoniosWill.com (for book synopsis, review copies, photos and author bio), Facebook: Yasmin.Tirado.Chiodini.Author, Twitter: @TiradoChiodini
A century after he was sentenced to death by electrocution, Antonio Pontón returns to tell his story of injustice in Antonio’s Will, a historical novel by Yasmin Tirado-Chiodini. Antonio Pontón was executed in the electric chair in 1916 at the Sing Sing prison in New York, against thousands of protests from doctors, compatriots, students and government officials. The warden and his deputy refused to be present at Pontón’s electrocution, and the latter cried when addressing execution witnesses and the press. The executioner fainted prior to the execution, which was botched.
Pontón was an Albany Law School student and the son of a prominent Puerto Rico family. His execution was soon forgotten and buried in time, until the author, a attorney and family historian, uncovered Pontón’s execution while conducting genealogical research on one of her father’s family lines. “Antonio’s Will is the result of many years of study that began with family history research and evolved into a massive historical and legal investigation,” said Tirado-Chiodini. “Genealogists can become thirsty history detectives, and sometimes we may not be prepared for what we uncover,” she said, stating that no one in her family knew about the tragedy.
Realizing the historical significance of her discovery, Tirado-Chiodini focused her spare time on obtaining thousands of documents and connecting facts in them. She exposes the tragic findings in detail in her novel Antonio’s Will, including the murder, the trial errors, the desolation at the Sing Sing prison, the pleas of an entire island and of U.S. government and prison officials to save Pontón, and his unjust execution. The novel is filled with gripping historical and cultural details spanning three countries and over a century. It presents stories within a story, and it also builds on the life of Pontón’s father Manuel, who migrated to Puerto Rico from Spain as a child in 1870 and became one of the most prominent tobacco planters in the island at the turn of the century.
Antonio’s Will, available on e-book and paperback formats, has been on and off the Amazon Top 100 Kindle Paid List for Hispanic American Literature since its publication at the end of 2014 and on the Amazon Top Rated List in that genre. The early reviews are promising, with statements such as: “A brilliant book,” “A powerful, compelling historical novel,” “This book is beautiful,” and “I could not put it down.” Tirado-Chiodini’s goal in writing the novel was not only to relay its stories and promote cultural awareness, but also to ensure that it “helps prevent [injustice] from happening again,” as one of the reviewers captured. “This is Antonio’s story, but it is also a call for equal justice for all people,” the author said. She stressed that U.S. society is still debating the constitutionality of the death penalty a century after the Pontón case, when many countries have rejected it as a human rights violation. A second book containing selected documents and commentary in the Antonio Pontón case will be released in the spring. A cover reveal is forthcoming.
In addition to her passion for family history, Yasmin Tirado-Chiodini has a solo business and intellectual property law practice, and is a former U.S. Space Shuttle engineer, executive consultant and adjunct professor at a graduate university level. She lives with her husband, daughter and four rescued Labradors in Florida and writes, publishes and speaks on various subjects. More information on Antonio’s Will, A Story of Sacrifice, Love, Tragedy and Injustice is available on www.AntoniosWill.com.