Sensual prose softens the crushing blows that life doles out to almost every character in this latest from García (Dreaming in Cuban), in which six lives cross paths in a luxury hotel somewhere in the tropics of Central America. It's a gloomy portrait of modern life, told through a series of vivid, sometimes fantastical, narrative moments. In the honeymoon suite, a Korean businessman contemplates suicide as his pregnant 15-year old mistress flits around dressed up like a harlot from a bygone era. On the rooftop, waitress and ex-guerrilla Aura Estrada sips tea with her dead brother, who warns her of the arrival of the colonel who killed him. Martín Abe, the corpulent colonel, plots against leftists, curses the wife who's left him, and lusts after the most talked about guest in the hotel: Suki Palacios, also known as the Lady Matador. A Californian of Mexican and Japanese descent, Suki is in town to fight in the first ever Battle of the Lady Matadors in the Americas. The sultry atmosphere, dash of the supernatural, and well-developed characters are a winning mix, and the story's many parts move with frictionless ease. (Sept.)
García's fourth novel (after A Handbook to Luck) involves six people whose lives are spent in the Hotel Miraflor, in a nameless capital in Central America. Suki, a Japanese Mexican American female matador, is in town for a bullfighting tournament, and her presence in the hotel is met with awe. Aura, a waitress in the hotel café, is an ex-guerrilla whose brother, in the form of a ghost, persuades her to avenge his murder by a colonel who is a guest at the hotel. Ricardo, a poet and a Cuban exile, is traveling with his wife to adopt a baby from the area, while Gertrudis is the powerful and corrupt lawyer arranging the adoption. Won Kim, a suicidal manager of a local textile factory, has a mistress who is expecting his child. García uses the romantic and familial relationships to detail the politics of Latin America. VERDICT García, whose Dreaming in Cuban was a finalist for the National Book Award, creates characters whose situations are intertwined in a way that produces a powerful narrative. With its multicharacter story line and subject matter, this book recalls Roberto Bolaño's 2666 and the novels of Julia Alvarez, and will appeal to readers who enjoyed those books.—Cristella Bond, Anderson P.L., IN
Six characters in an unnamed tropical city consider matters of life and death, sex and politics, in a brief, intense, imperfectly resolved chronicle of overlapping destinies.
Skilled, sensuous and wry, García (A Handbook to Luck, 2007, etc.) displays economy and impressionistic deftness via her diverse cast centered in the Hotel Miraflor, located in a volcanic, Latin American "wedge of forgotten land between continents." Here, after a recent history of violent political turmoil, an election is looming in which the ex-dictator is standing for president, while bombs explode in rival hotels. Meanwhile, Korean textile manufacturer Won Kim dreams of suicide for himself and his pregnant teenage mistress; guerrilla-turned-waitress Aura plots revenge on Colonel Abel for the savage murder of her brother; and lawyer Gertrudis Stüber sells babies to rich white visitorssuch as poet Ricardo Morán. But most eyes are on the thrillingly beautiful yet unattainable Suki Palacios, here to compete in the first Battle of the Lady Matadors in the Americas. Observing these characters over six days, as they pursue their preoccupations with birth, blood, desire and duty, García simultaneously evokes a corrupt, vibrant culture via snippets of news and gossip. More successful as a sequence of character portraits than a full narrative, the book concludes with some positive choices and some open-ended possibilities, yetremains short of a larger sense of narrative unity.
Six brightly located characters in search of more than synchronicity.
…Garc�a keeps the plates spinning. Not all the stories are equally engaging, and not all the characters rise above the level of types, but the cumulative effect is of an appealing yet barely controlled wildness. The control is in the scaffoldingseven days, six main characters, a collage of news items at the end of each chapterand at times it can seem constraining. But without the constraint the wildness would sputter. At its best, the novel has the energy of an obsessive tango. Or, indeed, a bullfight.
The New York Times
From the Publisher
“Exotic, lush, and sensual.” –O Magazine