On his island, Fidel Castro faces protests on the streets and realizes that he is about to be overthrown. Alone, surrounded, and aware that the end is fast approaching, he plays his last card.
Meanwhile, Christ arrives on Earth and teams up with Fátima, who is convinced she can create a miracle to avoid the final battle between JFK and Fidel Castro and save the world as we know it.
At the end, something really extraordinary happens!
Humorous, rich with metaphor, and refreshingly imaginative, The Tragedy of Fidel Castro was chosen as the book-of-the-month and book-of-the-year by Os Meus Livros magazine.
"Joao Cerqueira's Tragedy of Fidel Castro is a phantasmagoric odyssey through a highly imaginative prose universe of discovery and inquest. It's a magic realism hybrid of sacrificial lambs and Revolution, capitalistic decadence, and celestial consequence--in a dimension where the cogs of time got jammed. I expect that this rich and unique narrative voice will illuminate a phosphorescent trajectory in the future annals of the New Millennial World Lit!"
- Mark Spitzer - Toad Suck Review Editor, Professor of Writing at the University of Central Arkansas
"a smart, energetic and funny piece of writing."
- Bethany Gibson, Fiction Editor of Goose Lane Editions
"Brilliant satire, playfully serious [...] do not waste even a single paragraph"
- Rita Bonet, Os Meus Livros
"João Cerqueira rewrote history, and did so with great inspiration!"
"João Cerqueira shows a great imagination and a sense of humor far from innocent [...]"
- Blogue Bela Lugosi is Dead
"In my opinion there was only one Portuguese novel that had all the conditions to win the style of magical realism: The Tragedy of Fidel Castro"
- Blog Fanzine Tertuliando
"an imaginative author who masters metaphorical discourse and who can debate on national and international events, as well as both sacred and profane figures''
Livros & Leituras.
|Publisher:||Greenleaf Book Group, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.43(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Tragedy of Fidel Castro?a novel
By JOÃO CERQUEIRA
River Grove BooksCopyright © 2013 João Cerqueira
All right reserved.
Wandering through the muddy fairground with two guardsmen, JFK watched the seething commercial activity exultantly. Here were buyers and sellers from all parts of the world, including from the land of Fidel. To these he would close his eyes and open his purse strings. Business was business, and it was not worth spoiling everything for the sake of politics. The language of trade was pure—numbers, dollar signs, and percentages—immune to ethical or ideological corruption. That's how it had always been and how it would remain. It was not up to him to question the morality of the system, because, ultimately, the fault lay with the principles and values that had failed to adapt to economic developments. Between paralyzing rigidity and dynamic flexibility, the choice was an easy one to make.
In secret, bold merchants would offer JFK the enemy's best cigars, receiving in exchange some demijohns of bourbon from the demarcated regions for Fidel. These transactions were the only link between the two leaders and were as consistent as the animosity that separated them. At Christmas, each sent the other luxury gifts in a Cold War–style competition designed to impress the enemy. The last case of puros sent by El Comandante had been of exceptional quality. Far superior to the bourbon I sent him, JFK reflected, puffing the warm smoke.
As he watched the mercantile bustle, musically accompanied by the crystalline tinkle of coins, he felt a great pride in the economic vitality of his country. Whenever he compared it with Fidel's fragile economy, artificially bolstered by the state, he was overcome with patriotic raptures. He found it inconceivable how the Castro regime could ban free enterprise, thereby wasting the opportunity to tax the rich, an art that required considerable effort and imagination, admittedly. And he found it harder to believe that the state also undertook all the population's needs when there was clearly not enough money for it. Fidel obviously hasn't the slightest notion about human nature, he ruminated. That urge to mollycoddle the poor seemed to him both naïve and pedantic.
His economic system worked much better: The reward incentive was the engine of society and put everyone in their rightful place. Though, of course, some, like himself, had seats that had been reserved. Nevertheless, when he saw the unbridled greed of some of the new Pharisees, he would reflect apprehensively on the warnings issued by his counselor who stoutly defended more state regulation. "Their fatherland is their capital; give them freedom but never let them loose."
Mingling with the people, listening to the miracle cures promised by evangelical pastors, he came across a group of penitents trudging aimlessly along. These were converted criminals, repentant prostitutes, famished wretches, blind men, and cripples. Prayers disintegrating into terrifying moans composed nightmarish melodies, which in the darkness of night would return amplified to the ears of all who heard them. Each seemed bent on proving that he had the most serious flaws or owed the most splendid favor. The sight of this group disturbed the people, unleashing the demons they harbored within. It was not the madness they feared so much as the accusing blast that would ignite the crackling hellfire of guilt. Even so, morbid curiosity would still draw them toward this spectacle of dementia.
Though accustomed to man's brutal attempts to win divine recognition, JFK couldn't help but feel uneasy as he stared at the grotesque scene of those who had escaped illness or who imagined themselves to have committed unforgiveable sins. How far can man's folly go? he wondered. Some priests told him that madness was the sign of the presence of the demon, though others claimed it was a divine blessing, which made him wonder who, in the end, was truly insane.
However, some of his ruminations were more pragmatic: What if someone convinces them that they are not to blame, rather those who govern them? What if a new Fidel Castro appears to incite them to rebellion? What if Judgment Day gives rise to settling scores on earth? What will happen? Tormented with anxiety, he imagined the people rising up against him, peasants brandishing hoes, his house burned.
JFK was not afraid to confront the army of El Comandante. What he feared most was the subversive message: emancipation of the masses, their awakening from lethargy, growing awareness of their own power.
As the president, he was only one man, and there were no more than a few dozen generals. But the people, his soldiers included, consisted of millions of men and women. His country's greatness lay in his ability to harness this powerful collective force and use it to clear the steep paths to glory.
But from time to time, evil beings would appear that were more dangerous than any army. These supreme threats manifested in the form of men of faith or warriors, both of whom wielded words like weapons, words that would shake the people out of their torpor, breaking the spell. Once awake, that famished beast would turn on its masters, devouring them. He knew he was standing on a dormant volcano that sooner or later would erupt, sending a sizzling jet of lava in his direction. But his Pompeii was surely still far off. The darkness protects us; they will go on hating themselves as long as they stay in the shadows, he reflected, gazing at the band of penitents.
Nonetheless, the unending conflict with Fidel was exhausting him, leaving him lost in a labyrinth of strategies doomed to failure. As soon as a new idea occurred to him, he would ruthlessly reject it, unmasking some blocked reasoning. Wherever his mind led him, he would come to a dead end and have to start over. Each time that happened, he grew more tired. He would then recall his numerous military victories and the diplomatic skill he would use whenever force was unadvisable; there were so many powerful men who had been brought low by his strength, astuteness, or gold coins. Recalling his past glories always filled him with pride and renewed confidence. It was his opium. The euphoria would wear off minutes later, however, and anguish would return. He continued along the fairground paths and through the crossroads of reasoning, yearning for inspiration to end the exhausting conflict with Fidel.
A gust of wind shook his coat and icily caressed his neck. JFK shivered and found himself alone. He was staring into the abyss that people called the sky, gaping at the sheer size of it. It confused him to try to conceive of its beginning, and he didn't dare imagine its end. At that moment he understood that his nation was no more than a splinter of an infinite universe and his own existence merely a brief flash in the tremendous cosmic darkness.
He felt lost and wondered if God had abandoned him.
As night gradually settled over the day, composing delicate hybrid hues, he glimpsed the mansion of J. E. Hoover and stopped instinctively. He had heard terrible tales about this sinister figure ever since he was a child, stories of drinking animal blood and biting off birds' heads, all invented by his nanny to make him eat his soup. Now, though, J. E. Hoover was his main ally. Yet for some, Hoover wielded more power than the president, thanks to a vast network of informers and spies constantly supplying him with compromising information about the country's citizens. It was said that Hoover kept detailed files that could destroy anyone's reputation, including that of JFK—that he had ordered phones to be hacked, and that he had access to confidential legal information. For that very reason, it was claimed, Hoover had the generals, clergy, bourgeois, and wise men all in his hand, each of them hostages to scandal.
Although he would callously berate Fidel Castro, burning up in ire like Cato recalling Carthage, Hoover's most exquisite hatred was reserved for the counselor. This was partly because of his importance to JFK, as if the deference shown to him obliterated part of what was due to himself. But it was also because he had never found anything in the counselor's conduct—not sex, nor drugs, nor drink—that could be used to mire him in shame. He had no trumps with which to manipulate him.
For a few moments, JFK remained before J. E. Hoover's house with a strange taste of cabbage soup in his mouth. He recalled Hoover's words during the last Council of State: "Human beings have an innate taste for servitude and subservience, a strange resignation to abuse, which allows minorities to tame the masses without much effort. That is why those who promise to emancipate them also throw them into the dungeons, as if it were the same thing. This is the reality, the only social contract possible. Let us not generate needs in them that they are currently unaware of, nor appetites for which we might one day become the food. The people are ugly, dirty, and bad, and all they want is bread and circuses."
* * *
JFK was in session with the counselor, and both kept a meditative silence. JFK began to pace around the table, closely imitated by his counselor.
Seen from above, through the reticulated eyes of a fly on the ceiling, these moving bodies would be transfigured into two masses of different shapes and sizes—a large rectangular one in front and a small spherical one behind. Such was the synchrony that as soon as one slowed his pace, the other would immediately follow suit. Likewise, any increase in speed would instantly be matched. However, as concord between two men never lasts long, JFK switched directions and crashed into the counselor, sending him flying some six feet—according to the mental calculations of the fly on the ceiling.
"Careful!" shouted JFK, rubbing his belly.
"I've had an idea," said the counselor, prostate. JFK pricked up his ears. Then, as he'd once seen in a play at the theater, the counselor got up and moved to the window. With his back to the president, he asked, "Mister President, how can you tell the strength and weakness of a man?"
"To defeat Fidel we have to get into his mind, learn to think like he thinks, feel as he feels."
"What if we turn into Communists too?"
"Don't worry. There's a man that can help us—Castro's spy, captured last year. All you have to do is question him about his ideological concepts, his faith in the revolution, and the hatred he feels for our model of society. In other words, just let the tape play on to the end, and you'll decipher the mindset of his mentor."
Without bothering to summon guardsmen, JFK and the counselor headed straight to the cell to interrogate the man who could unlock doors into the intricate mind of Fidel Castro. In his eagerness for quick answers, JFK broke into a gallop that forced the counselor to run to keep up with him.
"I have one small doubt, Counselor. How are we going to make him talk?"
"We are going to earn his trust, seduce him."
"Wouldn't it be better to use more traditional methods, already tried and tested?"
The cells were located near the river in an occupied building, once a cosmopolitan cultural center. Facing westward, the rectangular building had a central open courtyard, three floors, and a two-gabled roof whose garrets had been converted into lookout posts for the sentries. The façades were broken by large, barred windows, the single doorway equipped with a heavy knocker. Bathed in dusky light, the stones emitted warm tones, and fiery reflexes shone in the windows. Glowing gently as if a profound mystical charge were emanating from it, the lockup seemed more like a place of repose and meditation. JFK and the counselor contemplated it. Like an apparition, the building radiated dazzling light, which held their gaze. "What Fidel would give for a prison like this!" burbled JFK, quite numb with aesthetic ecstasy. Stunned, the counselor closed his eyes.
At the door, JFK hesitated politely. "Do you not think it might be a bit late to visit?"
"They're still up. Anyway, it's your prison."
Not wishing to be rude, JFK gently tapped on the wood with the metal knocker. Knock, knock.
"Who's there?" yelled an uncouth, ill-humored voice.
"Me—JFK—and the counselor."
"Got your ID?"
Irritated by the ignorance and unwillingness of servants, all too common in public services, the counselor roared: "If you don't open the door immediately, we shall have you hung before the day is out!"
The heavy door swung open, letting out a squeal of pain, such was the effort upon its poor old joints. A billow of musty air smacked them in the face like spittle, as if it had been waiting for the chance to escape.
"Would you be so kind as to step this way, Mister President?"
A ragged cloak, stretched out on the porch, served as a red carpet for the guests. Planted on it, looking sleepy and forcing a smile, was the prison governor. Opening his arms, he greeted JFK effusively: "Mister President, to what do we owe this honor?" JFK recoiled. He could well dispense with such excesses of affection, which would only give him lice and scabies.
"We've come on a top-secret mission. All I can say is that we wish to interrogate Fidel's spy."
"But that's against the rules!"
"Who do you think makes the rules if not the president?" snapped the counselor, restoring the logic of hierarchy.
"Well, in our land, rules were not made to be kept, were they?" quipped the governor, feeling his authority was being undermined.
"Take us to him, O scrupulous servant of the nation," bade JFK.
The former cinema, theater, and conference hall had been converted into collective cells, while the remaining rooms of the old cultural center served as dormitories for the wardens, a canteen, workshop, library, and the governor's quarters. For one hour a day, all prisoners were let loose in the courtyard to get some sun. They usually passed the time kicking each other violently as they pretended to be playing football.
All, that was, except Varadero, Fidel Castro's spy, who had been placed in top-security solitary confinement. "We can't let him mix with the other prisoners or he'll start converting them to the revolution, and then there'll be trouble," explained the governor. "Because of him, two dangerous criminals have taken to using berets and smoking cigars, while another has been greeting people with a clenched fist without so much as a by-your-leave. The cooks have been heckling for a raise and the guards have set up a labor committee. If I hadn't taken measures, goodness knows where it might have led."
"I see, I see," said JFK pensively.
"One day we had a riot among the prisoners because he decided to organize criticism and self-criticism sessions, and they all took advantage of it to get on each other and complain."
"That man's a danger," said JFK.
The governor decided to take the opportunity to give them a guided tour of the establishment. "Before I take you to see the spy, I'm going to show you the main cell, where we keep the most dangerous thugs on the face of the earth," he declared importantly, trying to boost his own worth. As they strolled, the strip of light projected by the torches transformed the three men into distorted shadows that slid along the walls in a two-dimensional procession. On this journey into darkness, strange phenomena occurred, turning the counselor into a giant and causing JFK and the governor to sometimes blend into a single patch with undefined contours. And thus the three flesh-and-blood beings and the phantasmagoric figures that accompanied them proceeded abreast down a long corridor until they arrived at a large collective cell, the former theater.
Its new actors had arranged themselves across the existing space, now bereft of seats. Some were standing, others seated, almost all involved in dialogues that ranged in tone from excitement to serenity, intense gesticulations to sleepy quietness, as if the stage director had allowed them total freedom to express themselves in a rehearsal without beginning or end. In scenes of greatest emotional intensity, groups of various sizes raised their voices and pushed and shoved at each other as if in a prelude to a brawl. In more intimate scenes, two or three men murmured confidences or told fantastic stories, while one or two solitary actors uttered seemingly interminable soliloquies.
Excerpted from The Tragedy of Fidel Castro? by JOÃO CERQUEIRA Copyright © 2013 by João Cerqueira. Excerpted by permission of River Grove Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Bleakly cynical, brutally honest, and surreally irreverent, The Tragedy of Fidel Castro offers a sometimes uncomfortable juxtaposition of tragedy and comedy, raising Fidel Castro, FDR, and others to the status of myth as the gods look down or maybe intervene. “In their own muddled way, they’re both trying to imitate you,” says G to first-born son J, while Fatima listens and disparate threads come together. Long passages of introspection characterize this tale, combined with complex and conflicting motivations, mystical rumination, and the greater tragedy of human history, rendered magically surreal. Biblical parables and parallels abound. The madness of Nebachudnezzar repeats itself in a different frame. And diplomacy might be heaven’s only hope a well as mankind’s. The Tragedy of Fidel Castro is a long, slow, complex read, weightily self-conscious, with darkly tragi-comic humor, fierce determination, and a powerfully unsettling sense of unhinging divinities behind the scenes. Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy and I offer my honest review.
The Tragedy of Fidel Castro is a densely packed satire/fictional spin of the epic face off between JFK and Castro. At times the novel breaks into hilarity. Most of the time it traipses in the land of sacrilege. Always it straddles squarely the line of classic literary writing. Cerqueira's talent disproportionately portrays the character of Castro and drives even the most hardened Yankee to the point of sympathy. Cerqueira's brilliance rests in the art of intertwining side stories and sub-plots. Readers will likely consider the opening of the book daunting. However, surviving the gamut of the first chapter adequately prepares the reader for a fun-filled jaunt.
I am copying the Preface of the book here because it is awesome!! "Preface This book takes place in an imaginary time and space. All characters and organizations mentioned are entirely fictional. Hence, Christ has nothing to do with Jesus Christ, the son of God, born in the year zero and crucified by the Romans thirty-three years later. God does not represent God, creator of the world and men, as no one has ever been able to depict Him. JFK is someone other than an American president with the same initials. Fatima has no connection whatsoever with a particular site in Portugal where, it is claimed, a miracle once occurred. Fidel Castro perhaps has some similarities with the revolutionary leader and dictator, Fidel Castro. All other characters, in principle, never existed." See? What did I say? This book is about JFK, Fidel Castro, God and Jesus, but it's not about JFK, Fidel Castro, God and Jesus. Confused? Good. It wasn't only me! Basically what this book is about is that a war is going to start between JFK and Fidel Castro and Fatima asks God to stop it from happening. God and Jesus have discussions about whether or not to interfere in this situation or not. At the same time, we are introduced to JFK and Fidel Castro through the 3rd person perspective. I have NO idea what Fidel or JFK were like as I was not born until years later so I have no frame of reference for the actual people. The characters in this book, as the author has said, are in no way related to the actual people. I hope not!! These men are crazy, mean, underhanded and selfish! I would really hate to think that they really existed. With all of that being said, this book was HARD to read. It has some very jumbled, descriptive, over-complicated areas. There are a lot sentences that are really, really looooong because of all the description put into the one sentence. Everything in the sentence has to be described. It can get really complicated and hard to follow at times. That was my only problem with this book. I really liked the dynamics of the "not" God, "not" Jesus, "not" Fidel, etc. The story was something that was completely different than anything that I have ever read or have heard of. This book may be better for the people that lived in the time of these people, but I don't think you necessarily have to know anything about them to enjoy it.
The newest book that I reviewed is "The Tragedy of Fidel Castro" by Joao Cerqueira. I was intrigued when I read the summary of the book, and I couldn't wait to see what it really was about. Here's the summary: When God receives a request from Fátima to help prevent a war between Fidel Castro and JFK, he asks his son, Jesus, to return to Earth and diffuse the conflict. On his island, Fidel Castro faces protests on the streets and realizes that he is about to be overthrown. Alone, surrounded, and aware that the end is fast approaching, he plays his last card. Meanwhile, Christ arrives on Earth and teams up with Fátima, who is convinced she can create a miracle to avoid the final battle between JFK and Fidel Castro and save the world as we know it. At the end, something really extraordinary happens! I mean really, how could you not want to know more after reading that?! This book was really a great read, something totally "out of the box" for me, when it comes to what I usually read, but I am always ready to branch out in terms of what I like to read. I honestly didn't know if I would enjoy a book like this, but I am so glad that I read it, it was a really super interesting read! I don't want to give too much away, but it is actually a hilarious story. The author does something really cool and a little bit "weird" with this book. The characters have famous names, like Christ, God, JFK, Fidel Castro, etc.. but they aren't the same people that we associate with those names.. It makes it really entertaining to read and in my opinion just adds to the story! While I see a lot of close minded folks hating the way that the author used Jesus Christ and God in the story, I found it super creative and really entertaining. The book was originally written in Spanish, and I have had some of my Spanish friends tell me that the Spanish version is even better, since there are some underlying jokes and elements that us native English speakers aren't really keen to pick up on.. The book is satire, humor, and history all tied together with religion and politics, and I truly believe that everyone should at least give this book a chance, if nothing more than to give yourself a different look at the world and the way you see things! Definitely a great read!
The rather frightening image on the cover of this book belies the very clever and entertaining story contained within. I read the introduction to the book while visiting the vet with one of my cats and I laughed out loud as I was reading it. The chapters that followed were a mixture of humour, black humour and a bit of religion. The story involves God, Jesus, Fatima, Castro and JFK, among others. These are not the real people we know by these names but fictional characters resembling them. Fatima has contacted God to request his assistance to avert the upcoming war between Fidel and JFK. He asks his son to join forces with Fatima and attempt to solve the problem. Fatima is sure she can perform a miracle which will shock the warring factions into abandoning their bellicose plans, but her powers are not as forceful or effective as she had hoped they would be, so a Plan B is needed. Castro and JFK are facing up to each other, both seeking power over the other's country and people, but Castro has an accident and loses his memory. He is looked after by some monks and has a very entertaining time in their care, almost causing a riot amongst the residents of the monastery. There are excerpts from letters and the journal of Castro which are sometimes humorous, sometimes rambling, but always written with the revolutionary fervour that one would expect of the real Castro. Whatever your political leanings, Castro (the real one) must be admired for his tenacity, passion and zeal where Cuba was concerned. His ideals were commendable but his methods were questionable. This book shows us a lighter side to his revolution and I found it very enjoyable.
Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite Author Joao Cequeira has created an interesting but fictional book looking back at Fidel Castro, the longtime revolutionary leader of Cuba. Cequeria begins by telling the reader that his God, Jesus Christ, JFK, J.Edgar Hoover and even Fidel himself are purely fictional creations. Then "The Tragedy of Fidel Castro" begins as JFK philosophizes about someone who will energize people with words that will shake them out of their daydreams. JFK wants to work with Fidel Castro's spy, Varadero, by earning his trust. Varadero is kept isolated in prison as he has two of the other prisoners wearing berets and smoking cigars, the cooks heckling for a pay raise and the prison guards in the process of setting up a labor committee. On page 19, the author writes that "Under the command of Fidel, our people overthrew a corrupt regime and installed a unique social model under which all citizens enjoy the same rights and opportunities." But the Cuban counterrevolutionaries arise and start a riot. Fidel selects Camilo Ochoa as a counterrevolutionary to be punished and charged with drug dealing. After all, Ochoa's primary school teacher remembers him stealing a papaya. "The Tragedy of Fidel Castro" is written with irony and humor to make the reader reflect and there is plenty in this book to ponder. Paragraphs are a bit long, perhaps a bit wordy, but the author has had a good time creating this story featuring Fidel Castro. Joao Cequeria's writing style is verbose and irreverent and full of fun for the sophisticated reader. He reveals that the bag of cocaine used to frame Ochoa is actually flour and that a smuggler's boat is filled with barrels of bourbon, televisions, perfumes and a crate full of Statue of Liberty miniatures. Not for everyone, but "The Tragedy of Fidel Castro" is one entertaining read!
What an interesting twist on what is known as an important time in American history. If you like your stories to be straight forward and just plain fiction, this is not a read for you. The way he added religion, history and satire all in makes for a read that will really get your thoughts going. Whether or not you are religious or believe in god, the way he used God as a main character to help with the duel between good and evil, in this case JFK and Castro really puts things into perspective and makes you see the events in a new light. He really did a great job at making an event that was obviously very serious and putting a humors twist on it while still keeping the importance of it. I think many will find some relevance behind the story in today's time.
If you're a reader who can't look beyond what you have in your mind about God, Jesus, JFK, or Castro, I 'm not judging you. I'm just not sure if you'll like this book. On the other hand, if you are looking for a fairly entertaining read that will challenge your thinking at least on a surface level, then give it a try. I received this book to review. The opinions shared are 100% mine.
This is one of them books, for me personally, that I realised as soon as I read the prologue that the book was on one of my favourite subject areas and if it was as good as I thought it was going to be that I wouldn't want it to finish and be left wanting more. Even though the author states in his prologue that his characters are not the real, JFK, Fidel Castro, God and God's son Jesus, I think this is the author sense of humour which is strongly evident throughout, it's hard not to relate the characters to the real people. In order to prevent conflict between JFK and Castro God sends his son to earth to solve it. The author's knowledge and research shines through the characters and the way they think. A struggle of ideologies of two different people who wanted to achieve the same goal for the best of their people, one through a dictatorship and the other through democracy. This booked had me hooked from page one , the descriptions and thoughts of the characters give the readers real food for thought .The author uses very clever examples of how one mans actions can make you think about your beliefs and are they the right or can you change them for the better. As the story developed the writers humour really comes through on a par with Tom Sharpe .The author places Castro in some excellent situations which both challenge and explain his reasoning and beliefs. This is an excellent and enthralling read and I really hope that I can obtain or purchase the authors other publications.
"When God receives a request from Fatima to help prevent a war between Fidel Castro and JFK, he asks his son, Jesus, to return to Earth and diffuse the conflict."... Okay, this is when I started worrying about being struck by lightning and seriously hoping that God has a sense of humor! The author has taken beings, people and events we know about and turned them into a humorous, satire that will keep you laughing and shaking your head! (Did he really write that???) When one reads the title, there is no way you would guess what kind of book this is! This is an easy read, colorful, and well-written with a great wrap up at the end! I recommend this for a change of pace! This book was provided by NetGalley and the Greenleaf Book Group in exchange for an honest review!
The Tragedy of Fidel Castro is a unique, entertaining novel by João Cerqueira. This story of a pending military conflict between a socialist and a capitalist country is less about the conflict of war and more about the internal discord that all humans deal with at some point in their lives. While the author makes a disclaimer in the preface regarding the book being about fictional characters, one can’t help but ponder the struggles of the real-life (and religious) figures the author has built his story around. The book opens with God receiving a call from Fátima, a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. She warns the Almighty that the war between Fidel Castro and JFK will soon begin. Because of His son’s previous experience on Earth, God reluctantly goes to Christ to brainstorm solutions to the pending conflict. After some resistance, Christ agrees to return to Earth, but only after a period of watching and waiting to determine what the humans will do. President JFK is anxious for a solution to the conflict with Fidel Castro that will not lead to a great loss of life on either side. During an informal meeting with one of his counselors, JFK decides to question the spy his government captured the previous year. As a top spy for Castro, Varadero was sent to the country of JFK to infiltrate the upper levels of the capitalistic society. Varadero is a staunch supporter of Castro and true believer in socialist dogma; but, his encounter with a graceful, deep thinking JFK alters Varadero’s opinion about capitalism, and about Castro. Soon after their meeting, JFK sends the spy home. As Varadero makes his way back to his island home, Castro is coping with the country’s struggling economy and impromptu revolts from disgruntled citizens. In order to maintain his stature in the eyes of his followers, Castro uses every psychological strategy and charismatic trick in his toolbox to keep his people in line. But when the leader takes time to review his private thoughts, what emerges is a picture of a man with numerous insecurities and doubts about his mission and his ability to lead. As this intriguing, beautifully written tale unfolds, it becomes clear that the two leaders are more alike than different. While JFK is a main player in the piece, this is truly Castro’s story. The author invests the most time and literary cunning into the descriptions of Castro’s life and challenges. The humor that sneaks around corners and occasionally trips up readers comes primarily from Castro’s thoughts and excursions (Picture it: Castro on a reconnaissance mission at a local nightclub decked out in a dress and pink heels.). And it is in Castro’s character that Cerqueira reveals the delicate underbelly of human frailty. Cerqueira’s writing is elegant and challenging; light and titillating. The story shows that—from our beliefs to our behaviors—we are all complicated creatures with levels of both good and bad in our collective life portfolios. I found it compelling and also fun that the author chose an infamous figure such as Castro to remind us that there are no absolutes in the world, only various shades of gray. The Tragedy of Fidel Castro is a delightful book. I highly recommend it. Melissa Brown Levine for Independent Professional Book Reviewers
Satire, which originates in the diatribes of the Cynics and the Stoics, has always busied itself with political and philosophical critique. And if in the first case the cynical Menippus stood out for his harshness concerning philosophical concepts, in the second, Archilochus was the whistleblower of what is left of the conventional or lies buried in Homeric heroism. These examples, from ancient Rome, denote, from such authors, the concern and intent to denounce what they considered fallacies, inconsistencies and anomalies, similar to the type of education that was given at the time. And as this type of education was already mythologized or made official, social value embodied, they chose the path of ridicule and acidic language to contest it, vulgar, satire, in an attempt, by this method, to implement an historical correction. In the Renaissance the genre was revived. And so, the most famous satyr, Pietro Arentino, received big bucks, both from Charles V and Francis I, so much did they fear his critical writings... I speak of Pietro Arentino, though, in my view, Erasmus, in the Praise of Folly, incarnates, not exactly the excellence of satire, but, conceivably, the sublimation of philosophical thinking that is inherent to it. In Portugal, satire has been a constant since the Middle Ages, just consult the nation’s songbooks, the plays of Gil Vicente, the Letters of Sá de Miranda, and take a look at Camões, Bocage, Eça de Queiros, Cesariny, in brief a never-ending line-up of satyrs, cultivators of the genre in prose, poetry, theater, epistolography, chronicles and literary criticism, etc.. This Tragedy of Fidel Castro is part of this tradition. See the Preface: “This book takes place in an imaginary time and space. All characters and organizations mentioned are entirely fictional. Hence, Christ has nothing to do with Jesus Christ, the son of God, born in the year zero and crucified by the Romans thirtythree years later. God does not represent God, creator of the world and men, as no one has ever been able to depict Him. JFK is someone other than an American president with the same initials. Fátima has no connection whatsoever with a particular site in Portugal where, it is claimed, a miracle once occurred. Fidel Castro perhaps has some similarities with the revolutionary leader and dictator, Fidel Castro. All other characters, in principle, never existed.” These introductory words serve to identify the humoral, anecdotal and parodistic nature of the writing that is presented, as is the case. The author shows a remarkable development and agility of writing, full of metaphorical notes and damning conclusions, such as the long rhetorical tirades by Fidel. We are before a kind of critical and cynical commentary, not only on national events, but also on international, sacred and profane ones. The Tragedy of Fidel Castro thus becomes an imaginative, entertaining narrative, though not innocent about the adventures and the rhetoric it uses. This review was written by the book critic Ramiro Teixeira