Category Archives: 2013 Books

In the news: August brings new releases from Vásquez, Engel and Marias

It’s August and it’s still hot. Here are some books to help keep your cool:

Sound of Things Falling Aug. 1: In the novel The Sound of Things Falling, Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez explores the effects of the drug war in his native country.

Aug. 6: A Colombian-American college student finds romance in the world’s most romantic city in Patricia Engel’s It’s Not Love It’s Just Paris.

The Infatuations Aug. 13: In Spanish novelist Javier MariasThe Infatuations, a woman is intrigued by a couple she sees at her local café – and then the man is murdered.

Aug. 29: Tim Z. Hernandez imagines the life of Bea Franco, the farmworker who inspired a character in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, in Mañana Means Heaven.

Events:

• The Latino Comics Expo , featuring Lalo Alcaraz and Mario Hernandez, will take place Aug. 17-18 in Long Beach, Calif.

Writing conferences:

Reyna Grande will be the keynote speaker at the Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference Oct. 5 at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, N.Y. The event will include panelists and one-on-one sessions with agents and editors.

Writing contests:

• Sept. 1 is the deadline for Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Award, given to an unpublished children’s book written by a writer of color.

Other features:

LoteriaMario Alberto Zambrano talked about his novel, Lotería, to NPR.

Alfredo Corchado discussed his book Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness, to NPR’s Fresh Air and PBS NewsHour.

Nearer HomeJoy Castro talked about her newest book, Nearer Home, to “Words on a Wire.”

• The life of The Alchemist author Paulo Coehlo is being made into a movie, according to the Huffington Post.

Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 is now available on e-readers, according to the Los Angeles Times. Francisco Goldman read Bolaño’s 2008 short story, “Clara,” on The New Yorker magazine’s fiction podcast.

Junot Díaz made annotations on portions of his award-winning book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao for the Poetry Genius website, according to MediaBistro.

• The federal courts have ordered the Tucson, Ariz., school district to make Mexican-American Studies available in its classrooms, reports NPR.

• Each major publishing house now has a Latino author on its roster, reports Latinzine.

• Graphic novels are becoming more popular in Colombia thanks to a lift in tax restrictions, according to Publishing Perspectives. One of the titles is a biography of Gabriel Gárcia Márquez.

Also this month:

• Nobel Prize winner Jacinto Benavente y Martinez was born Aug. 12. The Hispanic Reader turns two years old on Aug. 16.  Jorge Luis Borges, Paulo Coelho and Oscar Hijuelos celebrate birthdays on Aug. 24.

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Meet novelist Marta Acosta, author of “The She-Hulk Diaries”

Marta Acosta Marta Acosta brings otherworldly creatures to reality.

The California native is the author of the recently released The She-Hulk Diaries, about the cousin of the Incredible Hulk. Her young adult gothic novel Dark Companion, a homage to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre with a multiracial narrator, is now out in paperback. She also is the author of the Casa Dracula series of books featuring a female vampire.

she-hulk-diariesQ: Tell me about your latest book, The She-Hulk Diaries. How did you become involved in the project?

Hi, Jessica, thanks for having me at The Hispanic Reader! My agent heard about the project for a contemporary romantic comedy featuring Jennifer Walters, a top attorney, and her superhuman alter-ego, She-Hulk, and pitched me to Hyperion, which partnered with Marvel. She knew that I love writing first-person romantic comedy with supernatural elements. I was thrilled to be able to write this character from a woman’s perspective.

Q: Your books, including the Casa Dracula books and the novel Dark Companion, feature plots in which the characters deal with otherworldly characters or themes. What appealed to you about that type of genre?

I wrote Happy Hour at Casa Dracula on impulse, because I’d been watching some science fiction movie and I was ranting, “Why don’t we ever see Latinos in outer space? Why don’t we see Latinos in speculative fiction?” I spoofed the genre stereotypes and used vampires as a metaphor for “other” in society, and my protagonist, the bright irrepressible Milagro De Los Santos, is “other.” She describes herself as a square peg in a round world. When she’s infected with “vampirism,” she must hide out with a pack of high-achieving vampires at their country estate. They think she’s a tacky gold-digger; she thinks they’re terrible snobs. I used the humorous situation to address issues of class, race/ethnicity and gender.

My editor asked me for a series. I added in the supernatural element to Dark Companion, a homage to Jane Eyre and classic gothics, because the supernatural is a gothic trope. I’ve always enjoyed placing characters in a situation where the ordinary rules don’t apply.

Q. What inspired you to become a writer? What Latino/a authors influenced your work?

I just wrote as soon as I learned how. I wrote compulsively and to entertain myself. As a native English speaker, I was influenced by British and American writers, including humorists like Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Evelyn Waugh, Kurt Vonnegut. I love the absurdist comedy in Mario Vargas Llosa’s brilliant Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, a book I’ve bought at least a dozen times because I’m always giving it away to friends. While I’ve only published silly poetry in my novels, I’ve written more serious poetry, inspired by Pablo Neruda’s beautiful poetry.

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Book review: Mario Alberto Zambrano’s “Lotería”

LoteriaIn Lotería: A Novel (Harper), Mario Alberto Zambrano uses a piece of Mexican culture to tell a story of human tragedy.

The book’s narrator, 11-year-old Luz Maria Castillo, remembers playing the popular Mexican folk game – similar to bingo – with her friends and family after Mass. After a lifetime of abuse that leads to one dramatic incident, her older sister ends up in the hospital and her father is arrested.

Luz writes in her journal from a youth detention center. For each chapter, Luz uses the image on the lotería card to tell a story from the past. That premise seems like a gimmick, but Zambrano makes it work with his simple prose and a compelling storyline that alternates between the present and the past.

The book is both easy and tough to read. I had to take breaks from it when the situation got too intense. But the writing is easy to understand and it’s written in short chapters, and Zambrano can express raw human emotions that make you ache for Luz.

For example, in the chapter called La Dama, Luz tells God about the mixed feelings she had about her mother, who suffered terrible abuse from her husband – and fought back.

“Sometimes I wondered if she were praying because of something she’d done to Papi. Or something he’d done to her. Or maybe she felt bad for calling him names for hitting him with something she grabbed from the kitchen drawer. I wanted to let her know that I was okay and that You’d understand. I pulled on her dress but she reached out and pinched me without even looking. I didn’t even know what happened, but I remember my skin burning and thinking how much I hated her. I called her names and stuck my tongue when she wasn’t looking even though You were right there between us. But I only hated her for a little while, for as long as I could feel the sting on my arm.”

In El Cantarito, Luz feels guilty when she sees her sister in the intensive care unit.

“Standing there, all of a sudden, I was like a jug of water trying to be taken from one place to another, and little by little, I was spilling.”

In that same chapter, a social worker tries to get Luz to talk:

“It’s like in Lotería, instead of playing the four corners we play the center squares. But midway through the game you find out that you have the corners and you’re missing the center squares. And if you would’ve played the corners you would’ve won already. But that’s how it is, isn’t it?”

Each chapter begins with a gorgeous, full color illustration, done by Jarrod Taylor. The drawings differ from the traditional lotería game, but carry the same spirit.

Lotería turns an ugly subject into a beautiful book.

ZambranoMore about Mario Alberto Zambrano:

Lotería is the first novel for Zambrano, who grew up in Texas and is a former professional ballet dancer. He currently attends the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher.

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In the news: July brings books from López, Alfieri and Castro

It’s July and it’s getting hot out there! Here’s a look at new releases and other news to keep you cool:

AskMyMoodRingHowIFeel• Already out: Diana López, author of Choke, has a new book for young readers, Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel, about a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer.

• In Blood Tango by Annamaria Alfieri, the Argentine police is looking for a killer who may have wanted to murder Eva Peron.

House of Impossible Loves• A Spanish family faces a curse in which the women suffer doomed loved affairs in Cristina Lopez Barrio’s The House of Impossible Loves.

• Marta Acosta, author of the Casa Dracula books, has written the novel The She-Hulk Diaries, about the female Incredible Hulk.

Crossing-Over• Rubén Martínez’s Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, which follows a family that immigrates from Mexico to America, has been reissued with a new afterword. His book Desert America: A Journey Through Our Most Divided Landscape, which explores the changes in the American West, is now out in paperback.

LoteriaJuly 9: In Lotería: A Novel, Mario Alberto Zambrano uses a piece of Mexican culture to convey the story of one family’s tragedy.

July 16: Reporter Nola Céspedes, who first appeared in Joy Castro’s Hell or High Water, is back in Nearer Home, investigating the murder of her former journalism professor.

Rebozos_jacket-webAwards:

• The 2013 International Latino Book Award winners include Carmen Tafolla’s Rebozos, Leila Cobo’s The Second Time We Met, Pat Mora’s The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Malin Alegria’s Border Town #1: Crossing the Line, Joy Castro’s Island of Bones, the Las Comadres Para Las Americas anthology Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhood and Fierce Friendships and Reyna Grande’s The Distance Between Us.

AristotleDante• Winners of the 25th annual Lambda Literary Awards, according to The Wall Street Journal, include Cherrie Moraga, who received the Pioneer Award, and Benjamin Alire Saenz, who won awards for his books, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

• Puerto Rican Eduardo Lalo won the 2013 International Rómulo Gallegos Prize for Fiction, one of Latin America’s most prestigious literary awards.

Writing conferences:

• The Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference will take place Oct. 5 at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, N.Y. The event will include panelists and one-on-one sessions with agents and editors.

Writing contests:

Lee & Low Books has opened submissions for its New Voices Award, given to an unpublished children’s book written by a writer of color. Deadline is Sept. 1.

Other features:

The new website Latinas for Latino Literature have created a summer reading program for children. NPR focused on the issue of diversity in children’s literature, and Publishers Weekly noted the First Book organization is trying to expand the market with The Stories for All Project.

La Casa Azul Bookstore, the East Harlem, N.Y., bookstore run by Aurora Anaya Cerda that specializes in Latino literature, has had a busy summer. It celebrated its first anniversary in June, was honored by The White House for its crowdfunding efforts and was featured in Fox News Latino.

The latest investigation into the death of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda may have found a potential killer, says ABC News.

Alisa Valdes has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the movie version of her novel The Dirty Girls Social Club.

• Publishing Perspectives profiled El Paso-based Cinco Puntos Press, which publishes books by Benjamin Alire Saenz and Joe Hayes.

• The San Antonio Express-News covered a celebration by Tony Diaz’s Librotraficantes that stopped an anti-ethnic studies bill in the Texas Legislature this spring.

• Some news about Carlos FuentesThe FBI had a dossier on the Mexican novelist, reports the Los Angeles Times, and his books are now available on e-readers, according to Publishers Weekly.

Sandra Cisneros discussed Latinos in entertainment and other topics on NBC Latino’s Cafecito.

Alex Espinoza, author of The Five Acts of Diego Leon, talked to the LA Review of Books.

• NPR profiled children’s singer and author Jose Luis Orozco.

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Book review: Cristina García’s “King of Cuba”

king-of-cuba-coverCristina García’s King of Cuba (Scribner) is a wickedly awesome book.

The novel features two aging Cubans who went to college together and took two separate paths in life. El Comandante, based on Fidel Castro, became the country’s dictator, and Goyo Herrera ended up living in Florida and yearns to assassinate the man – or at least see “that son of a bitch in Havana to die first.”

After all, like many Cubans, Goyo has been through a lot.

“His brother had died in the Bay of Pigs, his father had shot himself from grief, his first love had hung herself over that tyrant. Goyo’s hatred was incontestable, lavish beyond measure.”

While Goyo also has to deal with an unruly son and health problems, El Comandante has to face political prisoners and other assassination attempts.

The book, at 235 pages, is easy to zip through because of Garcia’s great voice, which captures the bitterness of Goyo, the arrogance of El Comandante and the agony of old age. The book features generous amounts of profanity and sex and descriptions of their bathroom problems and penises. (Yes, you read that right.)

Aside from the foibles of the two main characters, the novel is a serious book – featuring anecdotes by everyday Cubans describing their struggles to make a living. King of Cuba makes a good companion to the recently released The Death of Fidel Pérez by Elizabeth Huergo, which also showed the effects of life under Castro’s regime.

Despite all he and his fellow Cubans have been through, Goyo still loves his homeland, as displayed in this beautifully written passage:

“ … the skies were embossed with the same moon and stars. The older he got, the more vividly his memories of Cuba returned – its dialects, its minerals, its underground caves, its guajiros, its hummingbirds, its fish, its chaos, its peanut vendors, its Chinese lotteries, its cacophonies, its myths, its terrors. Maybe this was what happened when a man approached death; senility and longing conspired to overtake reality. Perhaps Cuba had become nothing but an imaginary place, unrelated to any truth.”

King of Cuba is a book that will leave you thinking and laughing at the same time.

CristinaGarciaMore about Cristina García:

García, who grew up in New York City, also is the author of Dreaming in Cuban and The Lady Matador’s Hotel, as well as children’s books and poetry. She lives in Texas and New Mexico.

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher.

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In the news: New releases by Arana, Rodriguez, García

May brings out plenty of books, ranging from historical biographies and fiction to new novels from Linda Rodriguez and Cristina García.

Bolivar-1003Already out: Bolivar: American Liberator by Marie Arana, author of American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood, explores the life of one of South America’s most iconic figures. Arana talked about the book to NPR and The Huffington Post.

• In the novel The Ingenious Gentleman and Poet Federico Garcia Lorca Ascends to Hell, Carlos Rojas imagines the Spanish poet in hell.

AutobiographyofmyHungersMay 6: Rigoberto González explores his life in a series of essays in Autobiography of My Hungers.

May 7: Pura Belpré Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh uses immigration as an allegory for his children’s picture book, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale. The book was featured in US News and World Report.

every+broken+trust• Linda Rodriguez is back with detective Skeet Bannion, who is solving a series of murders and her own personal problems in Every Broken Trust.

• In Amy Tintera’s young adult novel Reboot, Texas teenagers are forced to be slaves. Here’s the trailer, which was posted on Entertainment Weekly, and an interview in Latina magazine.

IAmVenusMay 16: Spanish painter Diego Velázquez becomes intrigued with one of his subjects in Barbara Mujica‘s novel I Am Venus.

May 21: In the Cristina García novel King of Cuba, a Cuban exile living in Florida is determined to get rid of a Fidel Castro-like figure.

MidnightinMexicoMay 30: Journalist Alfredo Corchado describes life in his native country in Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness.

June 4: Three pre-teens go back to the time of the Mayans in the Matt de la Pena book Infinity Ring: Curse of the Ancients, part of the Infinity Ring series.

Awards:

The nominees for the 2013 International Latino Book Awards have been announced. Nominated authors include Joy Castro, Leila Cobo, Reyna Grande, Linda Rodriguez and Gwendolyn Zepeda, as well as the anthology Count On Me: Tales of Sisterhood and Fierce Friendships.

Junot Díazs This Is How You Lose Her is up for the American Library Association’s Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. The winner will be announced in June.

Events:

• The Spanish language LeaLA book fair will take place May 17-20, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Other features:

The remains of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda are being examined to see if he was poisoned, according to The Daily Beast.

Rosemary Catacalos has been named the first Latina Texas State Poet Laureate, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Gwendolyn Zepeda was named the city of Houston’s first poet laureate.

Isabel Allende, author of the newly released Maya’s Notebook, shared her reading habits with The New York Times and the five books that most influenced her to The Daily Beast.

Alex Espinoza, author of The Five Acts of Diego León, talked to NPR about how Tomas Rivera’s book … And The Earth Did Not Devour Him influenced him. He also discussed his book to the Los Angeles Times.

• Also in the Times, Dagoberto Gilb talked to Héctor Tobar about his literary magazine, Huizache, and the Latino Lit scene.

Manuel Ramos discussed his novel, Desperado: A Mile High Noir, to the Denver newspaper Westword.

Alisa Valdes is releasing a chapter a day of her book Puta.

• Eight Latino poets shared their favorite poems to NBC Latino.

• NPR covered the popularity of Venezuelan novels and visited the Ciudad Juarez club that inspired Benjamin Alire Saenz’s award-winning book, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club.

The New Yorker published a short story by the late Roberto Bolaño.

• Here’s a few interesting podcasts: Junot Díaz and Francisco Goldman at a Radio Ambulante podcast in February and a few events from the Lorca in New York festivities.

• California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera gave his playlist to alt.latino website on NPR.

• Got an ereader? Now you can download Sandra Cisneros’ books on there, according to Publishers Weekly.

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Book review: Gilbert Hernandez’s “Marble Season” and “Julio’s Day”

MarbleSeasonGilbert Hernandez, the legendary graphic artist who created the Love and Rockets comics with his brothers, has released two books with very different topics – Marble Season (Drawn and Quarterly), an affectionate look at childhood in the 1960s, and Julio’s Day (Fantagraphics Books), a gritty take of one man’s 100 years of life.

Marble Season focuses on Huey, his two brothers and neighborhood pals. The book is a series of vignettes of their day-to-day lives – attempting to play marbles, collecting bubble gum cards and dealing with an obnoxious new kid in the neighborhood. Huey’s biggest problem in life? He’s not allowed to read comic books after his brother got a bad report card and his parents put them away.

Marble Season is retro – there’s a helpful guide in the back that explains the pop culture references. It’s a charming book that children and adults will read with amusement.

JuliosDayBy contrast, Julio’s Day is a far more ambitious and serious. The book opens with the birth of its main character, Julio Reyes, and follows him and several generations of his family through the century as they experience love, go to war and suffer some terrible illnesses. The books ends with Julio’s final breath. (Note: the book has some graphic images of illness, death and sex. You can read an excerpt of the book on this NPR webpage.)

Hernandez’s ability to capture life in just a few short frames would be the kind of books that would appeal to reluctant readers, especially teenage boys. I was especially intrigued with his drawings. With just a few strokes, he’s able to create a menacing sky or depict the ravages of illness.

Both books are entertaining, but your enjoyment may depend on your mood. Marble Season will make you smile. Julio’s Day will make you think.

gilbert_hernandezMore about Gilbert Hernandez:

Hernandez is known for writing and drawing the Love and Rockets graphic comics with his brothers Jaime and Mario. He has been nominated twice for Best Writer/Artist for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. He grew up in Oxnard, Calif.

Source: I received a review copy of Marble Season. I purchased Julio’s Day.

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Book review: Isabel Allende’s “Maya’s Notebook”

MayasNotebookNineteen-year-old Maya Vidal is in danger. She is sent to live to what seems like the end of the earth – Chilóe, a small island off the coast of Chile. And it’s there that she begins to find herself – a journey depicted in Isabel Allende’s newest novel Maya’s Notebook (Harper).

Maya, originally from Berkeley, Calif., has had a tough time since her beloved grandfather died from cancer. She turns to drugs and rapidly descends into a life of homelessness and crime – tangled in a web that involves the FBI, Interpol and a Las Vegas gang.

Her grandmother sends Maya to her native Chile to live in a town (population: 2,000) that seems disconnected from the world – the villagers can’t rent DVDs or video games and only see movies once a week at the school. Maya learns to like the villagers and adapts to their customs, such as the women’s gathering in a ruca on the nights of a full moon.

Maya’s Notebook requires some patience. The first 100 pages spend more time describing life in Chilóe and her family when I wanted to know how Maya got into such a mess. But my patience paid off, because when Maya finally revealed the secrets of her past, the story was a fast, fascinating read.

The book also draws it strength from Allende’s elegant writing, with inventive descriptions and metaphors, such as this:

“… Addiction is an astute and patient beast, with infinite resources, always lying in wait, whose strongest argument is persuading you to tell yourself you’re not really not an addict.”

Another great passage describes Manuel, a family friend who faces his own demons and secrets:

“On this blessed island nothing feeds my bad memories, but I make to an effort to write them down in this notebook so I won’t have to go through what happens to Manuel. He keeps his memories buried in a cave, and if he’s not careful, they attack him at night like rabid dogs.”

Beautiful writing – although, at times, I wondered if a 19-year-old brat would sound that sophisticated.

But those passages prove Allende’s excellence. She can make Maya a sympathetic character and take readers from the dangerous streets of Las Vegas to the humble town of Chilóe. Maya’s Notebook is an absorbing book that shows how one woman overcomes a life of terror.

AllendeMore about Isabel Allende:

Allende, who was born in Peru and raised in Chile, is best known for her 1982 novel The House of the Spirits. She also has written 11 novels, including 1985’s Eva Luna and 1999’s Daugher of Fortune, and four memoirs, including 1995’s Paula. She currently lives in the United States.

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher.

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Book review: Rudolfo Anaya’s “The Old Man’s Love Story”

OldMan'sLoveStoryRudolfo Anaya’s newest novel, The Old Man’s Love Story (The University of Oklahoma Press) is a book that will touch your heart because it feels so real – after all, it’s based on Anaya’s own experiences as a widower.

The book begins as the old man (no name is given) sees his wife dying after an illness. The grief is profound as he thinks about her everywhere he goes – including the grocery store.

“A flickering memory suddenly burned bright. His wife’s lovely breasts. Other memories came piling on him. Whenever he passed won the cereal aisle, tears filled his eyes. He would never again buy her favorite cereal.”

He tries to be active – going to a water aerobics class, eating dinner with friends and family, and even dating a high school friend who lost her husband. But the memories keep coming up as he deals with growing older. (“Old people know bathrooms are dangerous places.”) He thinks about their travels and the rooms she carved in his heart. At one point he tries to conjure up her spirit by placing her pictures in a circle.

“He couldn’t say the magic word and have her appear. He would never again hold her in his arms.”

The book, at 170 pages, is easy to read thanks to Anaya’s simple prose. I thought the book would be depressing, but it’s not. Anaya writes in a matter-of-fact tone that doesn’t sound self-pitying and many readers will be able to relate to his struggles.

I have one minor complaint about the book. The old man seems to idealize his wife – which is natural, but I would like to know if they had any arguments or is she did anything that annoyed him.

Still, The Old Man’s Love Story is a beautiful love story. Your heart aches for the old man, as he tries to live each day without his soulmate. You may wish you had a love like they did.

Rudulfo AnayaMore about Rudolfo Anaya:

The New Mexico-based Anaya is best known for his 1972 classic, Bless Me Ultima, which was released as a movie earlier this year. He has written numerous children’s books and novels, including the Sonny Baca detective series and Randy Lopez Goes Home.

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher.

Another excellent book about a man dealing with the death of his wife, although in different circumstances, is Francisco Goldman’s 2011 novel Say Her Name.

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Book review: Elizabeth Huergo’s “The Death of Fidel Pérez”

FidelPerezIn the novel The Death of Fidel Pérez (Unbridled Books), Elizabeth Huergo weaves in the recent history of Cuba with the tormented lives of its residents – all in a story that takes place in one day and begins with the shenanigans of two misfits.

One morning, an intoxicated Fidel Pérez is bereft that his girlfriend has run off with another man. He and his brother Rafael fall down the balcony to their deaths. Their neighbors cry out “Fidel has fallen” – and townspeople believe they’re talking about Cuba’s dictator Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul.

From this quirky start, Huergo focuses on three characters –  Saturnina, a viejta who is still grieving the death of her son Tómas, a student who was killed while working for the Revolutionary Directorate against Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s; Pedro, an aging college professor who is haunted by the ghost of his best friend, Mario, who died in jail defending his cause; and Camilo, a student who is observing the action as the townspeople head toward La Plaza de la Revolucíon.

The commotion happens to take place on July 26, the anniversary of the Castros’ attacks on the Moncada Army Barracks in Santiago de Cuba, leading to their imprisonment, social unrest and their eventual power of Cuba.

The book shows how the Castros’ dictatorship affected the lives of Cubans – especially emotionally. The character of Pedro is particularly touching, as he deals with his guilt and the effects of living “in the belly of the monster.”

As one character tells him:

“There is no history written of those who quietly endure, Pedro. … There are monsters everywhere. They represent some necessary confrontation with ourselves. Their chaos, inflicted upon us, renders us to ourselves, reminding us of something integral that we need to remember.”

My only complaint about the book is that Huergo’s use of description – some of it is beautiful; other times, it drags the action. Still, the books moves swiftly and The Death of Fidel Pérez serves as an excellent history lesson and intriguing story.

LizHuergoMore about Elizabeth Huergo:

Huergo, who was born in Havana, Cuba, and immigrated to the United States as a child, based the character of Saturnina on a woman her mother knew. Huergo also is a poet.

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher.

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