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King of Cuba

door Cristina Garcia

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643326,276 (3.5)1
A Fidel Castro-like octogenarian Cuban exile obsessively seeks revenge against the dictator.
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Thank you Scribner Books for sending me an advanced copy of this book.

In 1956, Fidel Castro launched the Cuban Revolution to replace Fulgencio Batista with a communist regime and to secure ties with the Soviet Union. This larger-than-life revolutionary, who began life as the illegitimate son of a middle class sugar cane farmer, became one of the most controversial figures in history, credited by some as having destroyed Cuba, by others as saving the country from the demon of capitalism. His violent campaign employed guerilla tactics, torture and confiscating of private lands and industries.

The King of Cuba is told through two points of view, the fictionalized version of dictator Fidel Castro, "El Commandante," and Goyo Herrera, an expatriate living in Miami. Nearing the end of his life, El Commandante wants to resurrect the sixty year-old glories of his regime by staging a reenactment of The Bay of Pigs, "to put an end to the creeping amnesia regarding the glories of the revolution." Goyo is plotting to exact revenge against the tyrant for destroying his beloved Cuba.

Interspersed with short narratives from Cuban citizens, this is a gritty tale, replete with ribaldry, humor, geriatric infirmities and theatrical flourishes, a portrayal of two men struggling with the decline of Cuba as much as their own withering "pingas."





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  RobinGregoryAuthor | Aug 20, 2015 |
For some reason, I didn't think I was going to particularly like King of Cuba the more I read about the book and author in advance of the novel itself. Well, Cristina Garcia served me some process; this book is pretty awesome!

A major strength of the novel -- and an asset that could yield a wide audience of satisfied readers -- is its humor. It permeates the novel from its essential concept to the details of the storytelling from beginning to end. I would be surprised to hear of many readers who didn't find this book fairly amusing; I'd say such a view would probably fall out of the mainstream. Although, then again, what do I know about the mainstream, as such? ;)

The novel is beautifully and clearly framed by two quotations from poets -- one written in English and the other in Spanish. The larger than life character duo at the center of the story -- a pseudo-Fidel Castro and Cuban-American exile who hates the dictator -- serves as a perfect focal point. The characters play off each other beautifully through the course of the book. Existential questions are addressed -- cleverly and adeptly -- by Garcia, to an extent remarkable in a text of only 235 pages, which accomplishes other artistic purposes as well.

The ending is outstanding. It not only matches the quality and content of the text preceding it -- it meets a higher standard and improves each past part of the novel, as well as cementing a strong overall impression of the book in the reader's mind. I am eager to give this book a second read as soon as possible! ( )
  kara.shamy | Jan 9, 2014 |
This is a very witty take on Castro and his revolution, now an old man, living in his memories and his past glories. Reminiscing about the revolution when he was so beloved of his people. His wives, his mistresses, Che, how he settled hunger strikes, his magnetic personality, Batista and much more. Everything we learn about Cuba's past is through his memories.

Goya, an 86 yr. old man, living in Miami, has hated Castro all these years, much of his ranch in Cuba had been taken for redistribution when Castro came to power. Castro also seduced and got pregnant the woman Goya had loved. His life in the present is tumultuous, due to his grown children and he two dwells much in the past and his hatred.

This is in many ways a spoof of two old men, in failing health, dwelling on past glories and feelings. Resentful that their youth is gone and how they are treated now. There are many amusing lines, interesting tidbits from the past and present but at times I still found this somewhat tedious. One does not read this for the history, but for an amusing take of a man who has been in power for a very long time. ( )
  Beamis12 | Jul 7, 2013 |
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