Shango

Overview

Miguel is Cuban American, with the accent on American. But beneath the surface of his sun-drenched Miami lifestyle lurks an evil that threatens to destroy him. The chance reading of a newspaper article reporting a stolen skull and the ritualistic murder of a petty drug dealer pitches Miguel into an underworld where his cultural roots grab him like tentacles. His newly kindled compulsion to learn more about his culture brings him pleasure in the sensuous beauty of Ileana and pain in the enticing danger of voodoo. ...
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Overview

Miguel is Cuban American, with the accent on American. But beneath the surface of his sun-drenched Miami lifestyle lurks an evil that threatens to destroy him. The chance reading of a newspaper article reporting a stolen skull and the ritualistic murder of a petty drug dealer pitches Miguel into an underworld where his cultural roots grab him like tentacles. His newly kindled compulsion to learn more about his culture brings him pleasure in the sensuous beauty of Ileana and pain in the enticing danger of voodoo. Thrust into a tailspin world dominated by santeria, the Afro-Caribbean religion of his native island, Miguel and Ileana must find their way among mysterious cult initiations, drum ceremonies to invoke African deities and, ultimately, a hair-raising confrontation with the terrible god Shango. Chock full of fascinating characters, from the absent-minded professor to the tough but sentimental detective, from the inept thugs Hernan and Dago to the malevolent Rosa, and with the added intrigue of Afro-Caribbean religious rituals, Shango is spellbinding and engrossing.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Curtis (a professor and author of two works of nonfiction) has a smart idea in this novel about a Cuban American graduate student in Miami drawn into the occult world of Santera, but artless delivery and one-dimensional characters render this effort flat and amazingly dull for a story with so much gore and sex. Miguel is a fully assimilated American student hanging out on the beach with his Anglo, former-cheerleader girlfriend, Vicki, when he happens to read a newspaper article about a skull being stolen for a Santera ritual. Intrigued, he and Vicki visit a botnica, where they meet an obese man and a beautiful young woman, Ileana. Miguel approaches an ethnography professor about researching Santera for his course, and the two quickly become involved in a police investigation involving the original skull theft-apparently a signal that murder is in the offing. Miguel and Ileana become lovers, although it is never quite clear whether this occurs because they are attracted to each other or because Ileana mixes their bodily fluids in a jar. The narrative is in the past tense, but occasionally characters reminisce in the present; and certain sections are related in the present tense-presumably to add drama-but the narration then slides back into the past without any demarcation. These shifts are just part of the sudden changes in both narrative and characterization that burden a weak story. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Intriguing first novel about an Afro-Caribbean religion, by the author of The Cuban-American Experience and The Mexican Border Cities (not reviewed).

Miami homicide's Lt. Osvaldo Gutiérrez, a class act as a detective, comes into two cases of similar ceremonial murder, pointing to the Santería—a cult that usually practices white magic and sympathetic (homeopathic) magic. But these particular murders, involving iron pots filled with magnets, goat blood, and railroad spikes, along with the placing of a decapitated head stolen from a graveyard, suggest otherwise. Gutiérrez is fairly knowledgeable about such practices but consults the expert on them, Professor Henry J. Krajewski, author of Santería in Cuba: Persistence and Change in an Afro-Cuban Religion. Krajewski is helpful as he meanwhile also sends his Cuban-American grad student, Miguel Calderón, to see professor Rosa García-Mesa, herself an expert on Santería, since that is Miguel's current interest toward his thesis. Rosa shows Miguel her special holy room, chockablock with Santería relics favoring her chosen god, Shangó, the terrible trickster masculine sex-god. Later, while visiting a botánica where cult items are sold by the towering 300-pound giant Hernán, Miguel meets and falls in love with the gorgeous Ileana. A third murder occurs with the ritual death of Candyman, a minor drug dealer. When we discover that Krajewski and Rosa once had a child together in Cuba, that the child died, and that Ileana later was named after her, the story thickens, with either Ileana or Miguel seemingly set up to be the new ritual victim. The two—can't imagine why—decide to work with Lt. Gutiérrez to thwart the plot.

Neatly told, nice love interest, fairly mild melodrama, and rich backgrounds on occult and voodoo practices.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558850965
  • Publisher: Arte Publico Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 197
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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