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CriticasA celebrated new voice in Puerto Rican literature, poet and novelist Santos-Febres won Mexico's prestigious Juan Rulfo award for her short story collection Pez de vidrio (Glass Fish, Huracan, 1996). Like her acclaimed first novel, Sirena Selena vestida de pena (Sirena Selena, Mondadori, 2000), this book explores the Puerto Rican community. The plot centers on Juli n Castrodad, an aspiring newspaper reporter and novelist, whose uneventful life changes when he switches from proofreading at a reputable newspaper to clerking at a motel desk. At his new job, Julian meets clients interested in sexual encounters but also those using the motel as a hiding place for illegal meetings, including politicians, labor union representatives, and drug dealers. Peculiar twists in the story take Julian on a chase after two characters, a lawyer/union representative and a well-known drug dealer, who suddenly disappear. Dama Solitaria (literally, "Lonely Lady"), a mysterious woman who frequents the motel on Wednesdays, joins him in the investigation. The book's lively dialog reflects the social strata of the different characters, and the story provides a realistic picture of life in San Juan's underprivileged barrios. The novel continues Santos-Febres's interest in marginal characters, particularly those living risky sexual lives like the transvestites in her first novel, and who reflect the pressing social issues in contemporary Puerto Rican society. Readers in public libraries and bookstore clients familiar with Puerto Rico will find this novel of particular interest.
—Rafael Ocasio, Agnes Scott Coll., GA