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by Cristina García

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4391-8174-4
Publisher: Scribner

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 visitors such 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, yet remains short of a larger sense of narrative unity.

Six brightly located characters in search of more than synchronicity.