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"Cervantes Street is exciting to read...Under Mr. Manrique's pen, the world of renaissance Spain and the Mediterranean is made vivid, its surface cracking with sudden violence and cruelty...This novel can be read as a generous salute across the centuries from one writer to another, as a sympathetic homage and recommendation...Cervantes Street brings to life the real world behind the fantastic exploits of the knight of La Mancha. The comic ...
"Cervantes Street is exciting to read...Under Mr. Manrique's pen, the world of renaissance Spain and the Mediterranean is made vivid, its surface cracking with sudden violence and cruelty...This novel can be read as a generous salute across the centuries from one writer to another, as a sympathetic homage and recommendation...Cervantes Street brings to life the real world behind the fantastic exploits of the knight of La Mancha. The comic mishaps are funnier for being based in fact. The romantic adventures are more affecting. Cervantes Street has sent me back to Don Quixote.
--The Wall Street Journal
"Manrique adopts a florid, epic style for his tale of 16th-century Spain, one with the quality of a tale told by a troubadour rather than written on the page. He ably captures the human qualities of the legendary writer, as well as his swashbuckling."
"Manrique has penned a well-written, well-researched, fast-paced narrative ... An entertaining book ... and a superb retlling of Cervantes's life."
"Cervantes Street is historical fiction at its best. Compact and intense... The characters are wonderfully draw, the environments are detailed and colorful and the feeling is genuine... a gripping, adventuresome novel with profound insight into the ways in which we choose our destiny."
--New York Journal of Books
“The novel is exciting, paced well, interesting and with a literary mystery to boot.”
"Hold onto your hats because Manrique has crafted a brilliant pastiche... This fun, diverting, swift odyssey into Cervantes' travels... puts tall tales where they belong, in capable fiction... Cervantes Street should be in your hands."
"A sprawling vivacious big-hearted novel. Manrique is fantastically talented and this is perhaps his masterpiece."
The actual facts of Miguel de Cervantes's life seem to be snatched from an epic tale: an impoverished and talented young poet nearly kills a man in a duel and is forced into exile; later, he distinguishes himself in battle and is severely wounded, losing the use of his left hand; on his way back to Spain his ship is captured by pirates and he is sold into slavery in Algiers; after prolonged imprisonment and failed escape attempts, he makes his way back home, eventually settling in a remote village in La Mancha to create his masterpiece, the first modern novel in Western literature: Don Quixote.
Taking the bare bones of Cervantes' life, Jaime Manrique has accomplished a singular feat: an engaging and highly accessible take on a brilliant, enigmatic man and his epoch. This is an archetypal tale of rivalry and revenge—featuring Cervantes's antagonistic relationship with the man who would go on to write his own sequel to Don Quixote—that is sure to garner comparisons to Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, and, with its extraordinary recreation of the life and times of Cervantes, to Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall.
Jaime Manrique is a novelist, essayist, and poet. His critically acclaimed novels include Latin Moon in Manhattan and Our Lives Are the Rivers. He is a Distinguished Lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at the City College of New York.
"Cervantes like we've never known him: the rogue, the lover, the soldier, the slave, and above all, the poet. In this novel, Jaime Manrique reminds us that the great writer was a man of flesh and blood whose eventful life seemed destined for great literature."
"Jaime Manrique has written an exceptional historical novel, recreating with imagination and detailed accuracy the world of Late Renaissance in Spain. Manrique's rendering of the life of Cervantes is brilliant, and his solution to the mystery of who wrote the false Quixote is fascinating, and very persuasive."
Posted April 5, 2013
Cervantes Street by Jaime Manrique is a historical-fiction novel about Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s journey to write Don Quixote. The book is peppered with literary references to Cervantes’ works as well as works of the time, while I didn't get many I did enjoy learning about them
After the huge success of Don Quixote, a second part not written by Cervantes appears. The book is written by someone who uses the nom de plume Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda and prompts Cervantes to write his own “Book II”.
Who is Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda and why did he write the mysterious novel?
To find out the reader goes on a journey with Cervantes, from his escapes after killing a man (who insulted his Jewish ancestry), to his studies in Madrid, his passion of poetry, life in Rome and fighting in the battle of Lepanto. We trudge through years of slavery in Algiers (the story being told as a side tale in Don Quixote) as well as through his life back in Spain, where the famous author loves, loses and finally sits down to write his masterpiece
I am a big fan of Don Quixote, probably more to the nostalgia associated with the story from my childhood than anything to do with the classic story. However, when I did read the full length novel (both parts) I understood why the book has become such a literary classic.
Unfortunately, many readers get daunted by the sheer size of Don Quixote. The stories in the classic tale need knowledge of the time’s pop-culture in order to fully enjoy the reading experience. However, the same could be said for Shakespeare and several other authors from the far and not-so-far past.
For those readers who are overwhelmed by the size of the classic book, Cervantes Street by Jaime Manrique is the perfect introduction. The novel is exciting, paced well, interesting and with a literary mystery to boot. The “mystery” is quite easy to figure out but it’s the way we get to the end which makes the journey worth taking.
Mr. Manrique took an interesting life, gave it depth and narrative which shows great skill. The book is an exciting voyage where the literary payoff (both in the book and for the reader) is worth the investment and the old world in all its vividness and cruelty comes alive.
The author takes great care in assimilating some of Spain’s greatest poets into the story as well as weaving some of Don Quixote’s legends to the narrative. Many of the poets mentioned I did not recognize (I did read with interest the “Note to the Reader” section) however I did enjoy the literary license Mr. Manrique took to tell the story.
To write a good book you need a good heart is one of the lessons learned from this book, but there are other profound insights, not the least of them are about religion and destiny. We are responsible for our own future, we build our lives and we destroy them but it’s never too late, after all Cervantes was a dismal failure at everything he tried until he wrote Don Quixote at age 59.
The book is compact yet consistent with the life of Cervantes, Mr. Manrique manages to employ his imagination to create a rich environment and a gripping adventure. The characters are wonderfully inventive and charming; they all have their flows, their hearts and their assets with them, which makes the book real and engaging.