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In her sixth novel (after The Lady Matador's Hotel), Garcia alternates between El Comadante, a fictionalized Fidel Castro, and Goyo Herrera, a Cuban exile living in Miami who dreams of killing the dictator. The two have more in common than they would likely admit. Both are beset by old age and illness, both have regrets as they ponder the past and cope with the present, and both struggle to deal with family members: the dictator with his brother, who has taken over running the island, and Goyo with his two adult children. There are shocking scenes describing the dictator's cruelty (e.g., with regard to hunger strikers), but Garcia's humor comes through clearly. Mostly, though, this is a story of two old men nearing the ends of their lives in two Cubas. -VERDICT Although not entirely gripping, this story holds one's interest, especially in its portrait of El Comadante and his brother and comes to a satisfying conclusion. Recommended for fans of Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban. [See Prepub Alert, 11/26/12.]-Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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In her fun new novel, Garcia (Dreaming in Cuban) explores the hatred Goyo Herrera, an expatriate geriatric Cuban, harbors toward his arch enemy El Comandante, a contemporary who still wields formidable power in their homeland. El Comandante reminisces about the bygone days of revolutionary glory while expressing disgust for the current state of Cuba. In contrast, the widower Goyo lives in Miami with his daughter and takes phone calls from his depressed son, a man of almost 60 with a brain "irremediably fried by cocaine," meanwhile concocting revenge schemes against his nemesis. Goyo doesn't realize El Comandante also reels from the effects of aging, enduring denture pain and suffering other indignities in effort to make himself appear robust for a television appearance. For both men, Cuba has become legendary in its own way. El Comandante contemplates what he considers victories while Goyo remembers a land that has faded in his memory-"perhaps Cuba had become nothing but an imaginary place unrelated to any truth." Interspersed with short narratives by Cubans from various walks of life, Garcia's writing is laced with candor and wit as she portrays the lives of two men united by the past. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Garcia's (The Lady Matador's Hotel, 2010) tremendous empathy for her characters is the magnetic force of her fiction, and her lifeblood theme is the scarring legacy of oppression and brutality, particularly the horrors and absurdities of the Castro regime. In her most honed and lashing novel to date, she goes directly to the source, writing from the perspective of a fictionalized, aging, but not mellowing despot of Cuba. Proud of surviving numerous assassination attempts and defying doctor's orders to smoke his sacramental cigars, El Comandante terrorizes everyone from his charmless brother, now in charge of the country's day-to-day operations, to a doomed group of hunger strikers. During one sweltering summer, the dictator anticipates a celebratory reenactment of the Bay of Pigs, and Goyo Herrera, a wealthy expat in Miami battling the ravages of old age, stokes his rage at El Comandante and embarks on a crazy, cataclysmic mission. Both macho octogenarians fret over their bafflingly feckless offspring, preen over their sexual prowess, reflect on their youth, and slip into dreams and hallucinations. Spectacularly agile, strategically surreal, wryly tender, and devilishly funny, Garcia has created an ingeniously plotted, boisterous, and brilliantly castigating tale that is punctuated by a Cuban chorus mocking the country's cruel regime and relentless hardships and buoyed by a stubborn belief in transcendence.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist