“This posthumous translation of Rosales, a Cuban-American writer who committed suicide in 1993, delivers a raw, powerful story set in a Miami home for the mentally ill… It’s a frightening, nihilistic cousin of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”Publishers Weekly
Never before available in English, The Halfway House is a trip to the darkest corners of the human condition. Humiliations, filth, stench, and physical abuse comprise the asphyxiating atmosphere of a halfway house for indigents in Miami where, in a shaken mental state, the writer William Figueras lives after his exile from Cuba. He claims to have gone crazy after the Cuban government judged his first novel “morose, pornographic, and also irreverent, because it dealt harshly with the Communist Party,” and prohibited its publication. By the time he arrives in Miami twenty years later, he is a “toothless, skinny, frightened guy who had to be admitted to a psychiatric ward that very day” instead of the ready-for-success exile his relatives expected to welcome and receive among them. Placed in a halfway house, with its trapped bestial inhabitants and abusive overseers, he enters a hell. Romance appears in the form of Frances, a mentally fragile woman and an angel, with whom he tries to escape in this apocalyptic classic of Cuban literature.
“Behind the hardly one hundred pages,” Canarias Diario stated, “is the work of a tireless fabulist, a writer who delights in language, extracting verbs and adjectives which are powerful enough to stop the reader in his tracks.”
|Publisher:||New Directions Publishing Corporation|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Anna Kushner was born in Philadelphia and first traveled to Cuba in 1999. Beside her “commanding translation” (Words Without Borders) of The Halfway House (ND, 2009), her writing and translations have appeared in numerous other print and web publications.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Guillermo Rosales (1946-1993) was a Cuban novelist and journalist, who has been characterized as a "misfit", as he opposed the positions of both the Castro government and the Cuban exiles living in America, and because he suffered from mental illness throughout his adult life. He emigrated to the United States in 1979, where he was diagnosed as being schizophrenic. He lived much of the remainder of his life in a variety of halfway houses and mental hospitals, and ultimately committed suicide in Miami. He published four novels, but he destroyed all but this one, and El Juego de la Vbiola, which is currently being translated into English.Like the author, the narrator of The Halfway House, William Figueras, is a Cuban writer who emigrates to Miami, and meets his expatriated relatives, who are disappointed to learn that the "future winner" they were expecting is, instead, a "crazy, nearly toothless, skinny, frightened guy who had to be admitted to a psychiatric ward that very day because he eyed everyone in the family with suspicion and, instead of hugging and kissing them, insulted them." After he spends six months in and out of psychiatric wards, his aunt drops him off at a halfway house that caters to Latinos, telling him that "nothing more can be done."William very quickly learns that he has landed in Hell. His housemates are all demented, stuffing toilets with clothes and relieving themselves all over the house. The owner, Mr. Curbelo, steals their Social Security checks, and provides them with less amenities than the worst jail. Order is kept by several "employees", especially Arsenio, who steals from and beats the male residents, and rapes the female ones. Out of anger and frustration, William also begins to physically and sexually abuse his housemates, earning him the respect of Arsenio.One day a young, innocent and disturbed woman, Frances, becomes a resident. William immediately takes to her, and the two create a plan to escape from the halfway house and build a life together. However, Mr. Curbelo and Arsenio have a plan for them.This novella, although quite sad, was not morbidly depressing, as it is infused with warmth and humor, and the narrator does not descend into madness or despair despite his obvious pain and anguish.
The Halfway House by Guillermo Rosales is a story about a schizophrenic forced to live with other ¿nut jobs¿ in a Miami home ruled by a boorish ex con and his boss, an indifferent and cruel opportunist who filches money off of the tenants in order to satisfy his sportfishing needs. And although the book is small in size, it is heavy with characterization and description. Everywhere vivid scenes come alive. Sounds, smells, tastes and sights ¿ mental pictures of the halfway house that lend to its depressing environment. I¿ve not read prose so honest and vivid in a long while, no wonder I was drawn to the story. Equally impressive was Rosales¿ use of the first person point of view. Set at just the right temperature to keep the story going. Not too much mental insight ¿ a fault I see in other first person narratives these days. How satisfying it was to be able to stand in the shoes of the narrator without being bombarded by the narrator¿s predilictions. Rosales gives the protagonist, William Figueroa, just enough ¿life¿ for us to want to follow him throughout his adventures.I¿ll be honest: the ending came too swift for me. I wanted more, of course. More development in the final scenes. But I have to remember what I had read about Rosales. How he destroyed most of his works before committing suicide. And I have to content myself with the fact that The Halfway House is one of a miniscule of Rosales¿ surviving works. And what an impressive work it is.