In her brilliant debut novel, Ana Menendez uses her gift for storytelling to paint a sweet but sad, hopeful but despairing, serene and sometimes terror-filled portrait of Cuba in the time of revolution, and Cubans in exile then and now. The memories of an elderly woman provide a glimpse into the private life of a beloved public figure, the world's most charismatic rebel, Ernesto "Che" Guevara.The story begins quietly, in the narrative voice of a young Cuban woman who lives in contemporary Miami. Raised by her grandfather, a Cuban exile, she knows only that he fled turbulent times in Havana in the 1960s, bringing her to Miami when she was hardly more than a baby. These bare facts plus a few lines from a poem by Pablo Neruda are her only key to her mother, her father, her history, and the history of her country. When a package arrives one day, addressed to her, the crumbling letters and fragile photos it contains allow her to piece together the story of her mother, a youthful affair, and the child she bore by a handsome rebel.
Loving Che is a brilliant recapturing of revolutionary Cuba, the changing social mores, the hopes and disappointments, the excitement and terror of the times. It is also an erotic fantasy, a glimpse into the private life of a mythic public figure, and an exquisitely crafted meditation on memory, history, and storytelling. Finally, Loving Che is a triumphant unveiling of how the stories we tell about others ultimately become the story of ourselves.
"An evocative first novel...the glimpses of vibrant 1950s Cuba and Teresa and Che's perfectly rendered relationship make this a moving novel from a writer to watch." (Publishers Weekly)
"If Loving Che begins as a self-conscious paean to the redemptive ferocity of love, it ends as an elliptical and finely nuanced meditation on the mysteries of memory and identity." (The New York Times)
"Deftly captures the fluid sense of identity that accompanied the now mythic early days of Cuba's revolution....Menendez is at her best when...revealing what life is like for many Cubans today. She captures Cuba's potential, its desperation and decay, and also its dark humor." (The New York Times Book Review)
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- Myra Grozinger
A rainy afternoon book