The Palace of the White Skunks

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The second novel in the Pentagonia, this is a phantasmagoric novel of adolescent rebellion and political revolution.

"A beautiful, heartfelt book by a passionate and epic writer at the height of his powers." --Oscar Hijuelos

Reinaldo Arenas was born in Cuba in 1943. In 1980, he was one of 120,000 Cubans who arrived in the U.S. on the Mariel boatlift. Arenas settled in New ...

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Overview

The second novel in the Pentagonia, this is a phantasmagoric novel of adolescent rebellion and political revolution.

"A beautiful, heartfelt book by a passionate and epic writer at the height of his powers." --Oscar Hijuelos

Reinaldo Arenas was born in Cuba in 1943. In 1980, he was one of 120,000 Cubans who arrived in the U.S. on the Mariel boatlift. Arenas settled in New York where he lived until his death, from AIDS, ten years later.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Arenas's ( Singing from the Well ) stunning novel, set during the Cuban revolution, begins with the ominous figure of Death sitting in the yard of an impoverished rural family, spinning a bicycle wheel. In the course of the novel, God will make an appearance, as do familial ghosts, their presences in this stylistically rich, surrealistic narrative as important as those of any of the living participants. The life and death of young Fortunato, who joins the rebels and is tortured and executed by government forces, is told by a cacophony of voices, including those of his eccentric aunt, tyrannical grandfather, mischievous cousins and his own often anguished self. Fortunato, we learn, was raised almost as an orphan: his mother emigrated to North America; his father was unknown. His childhood, spent on a farm in the hill country, is not idyllic but far more pleasant than the nightmarish existence he leads when his grandparents move to town in order to sell fruit and vegetables to employees of a guava-paste factory. This venture is a disaster and the family sinks into even deeper poverty. As he enters his teens, Fortunato feels compelled to prove his masculinity via alcohol and women, and he earns a reputation as being half-crazed. His infatuation with the rebel cause and the price he pays for it are hauntingly described, bringing this explosive period in recent history uncomfortably close to the American reader. (Dec.)
Library Journal
This semi-autobiographical tale by an author expelled from Cuba a decade ago takes up where Singing in the Well ( LJ 7/87) left off. Fortunato, now an adolescent living in a household of loud and vexatious women, moves with them from the country to the drab and unhistorical city of Holguin, where they set up a sugarcane press, spar with each other in frustration, and stink of rotten fruit. City life, he reasons, will be tough, because cities are what turned his girl cousins into prostitutes. Things get so bad (God is addressed as ``you old faggot'') that the family tries to forget its private hell by adopting the hell that is ``for everyone alike.'' When Fortunato joins the rebels in 1958, the quality of his life does not improve. Arenas's unconventional narrative impressively combines dialog, mini-plays, advertisements, and newspaper reports into a lyrical and harmonious portrait of hardship and despair in Batista's Cuba.--Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cum berland, Md.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140097924
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/1993
  • Series: Pentagonia Series , #2
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 7.74 (h) x 0.72 (d)

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