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Adios Muchachos [Paperback]

Daniel Chavarria , Carlos Lopez
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 2001

Alicia is a smart, confident and gorgeous prostitute in Havana. She is not a street-walker. Rather, she displays her wares on bicycle, seducing men through the irresistible pull of her fine derrière. John King, her new client, is a Canadian businessman with a striking resemblance to movie star Alain Delon. This is no ordinary “John” and Alicia's feelings for him grow; she sees in their relationship the possibility of escape from her dead-end life in a Havana plagued with scarcity. When John King’s wealthy and sexually deviant boss is suddenly killed, Alicia and John hatch a get-rich-quick scheme. A web of deception is woven, but just as quickly unraveled disastrously, and only one person is able to say "adiós” to the dilapidated island of Cuba.

Daniel Chavarría was born in Uruguay in 1933. He spent the 1960s involved in several South American liberation struggles. He fled the continent and settled in Havana, Cuba, where he has resided since 1969. From 1975 to 1986, Chavarría worked as a translator of literature into Spanish, and taught Latin, Greek and Classical Literature at the University of Havana. His novels, short stories, literary journalism, and screenplays have reached audiences across Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Chavarría has won numerous literary awards around the world, including a 1992 Dashiell Hammett Award. Adiós Muchachos is his first novel to be translated into English. In 2002, Akashic Books will publish his mystery novel, The Eye of Cybele, set in ancient Greece.


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From Publishers Weekly

Fun, fast and intelligent, this devilishly charming import gives pulp fiction a good name. Hailed as one of the best Latin writers, Uruguayan-born Chavarr¡a is well known throughout Europe as well as in Latin America. He has won literary prizes around the world, including the 1992 Dashiell Hammett Award; this able translation by Carlos Lopez is the first to bring Chavarr¡a to an English-speaking audience. The story, a madcap caper full of twisted sex, devious schemes and high-rolling hijinks, also showcases Chavarr¡a's considerable scholarly research into prostitution. When Alicia, a crafty, bicycle-riding Havana hooker in present-day Cuba, meets Victor, a convicted bank robber masquerading as an upstanding businessman, they quickly realize each other's mutually nefarious motives and wind up in a business pact that leads to larceny, kidnapping and death. Despite the dark subject matter, the winking delivery provides comic surges as reliably as an amusement park ride. Readers are kept off balance by surprise twists and rolling punches but riveted by the sheer force of curiosity and entertainment. Linguistic and cultural tidbits illuminate the intelligence at work behind the bawdy and raw story, while the narrative reveals the exploitative nature of economic forces at work in Cuba. Lines blur between victim and victimizer as Chavarr¡a reveals a symbiosis in which wealthy foreigners exploit the country's resources (from sunken galleons to beautiful women) and the Cubans in turn exploit foreigners' resources. But Chavarr¡a never loses sight of his goal: to deliver an energetic hustle that will leave readers clamoring for more. (June)Forecast: The campy, vintage-style cover painting featuring Alicia posing provocatively on her bicycle will catch the eye of fans of the pulp genre; a dip between the covers will do the rest.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Celebrated in Latin America for his noir detective fiction, Uruguayan author Chavarr!a makes his English-language debut with this fast-paced novel, set in Cuba. Featuring Alicia, a bicycle-riding prostitute, and Victor, a Canadian financier with a shady past and a few current secrets, Adi?s Muchachos spins the tale of a caper gone awry, where no one is particularly bad and everyone is on the take. Castro's Havana has not appeared this sunny in many years, nor have its crooks been this good-natured. There is an accidentally dead Dutch millionaire, a man with a nose so large that he wears a mask to hide it when he makes love, a recipe for smoked eels in mango sauce, and a defective Chinese bicycle. Mixed together, these ingredients make a zesty Cuban paella of a novel that's impossible to put down. This is a great read, recommended for public libraries. Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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First Sentence
When Alicia decided to become a bicycle hooker, her mother agreed to sell a ring that had been in the family for five generations. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A definite winner March 9 2004
By Larry
Format:Paperback
It seems like every year the Edgar committees nominate one book that is so unusual that it stands out amongst the usual fare. Sometimes these books are excellent and would otherwise have remained undiscovered. For example, immediately comes to mind OUTCAST by Jose Latour, which was first published in English by the same publisher as this book. ADIOS MUCHACHOS is a black comedy that also could be considered a noir fiction. Characters are quite wacky and the plot extremely clever.
In Havana, Cuba, Alicia literally pedals her wares as a bicycle hooker. However, she isn´¿t simply out for money. She views each ´¿client´¿ as a prospective ticket out of her poverty-laden life via marriage or a long-term commitment. With the help of her pragmatic mother, Margarita, she seduces her johns with food and drink prior to their sampling of her sexual wares. Into this set up wanders her latest john, Victor King. Victor is involved in hunting for treasures on shipwrecks around the island. The people backing him are extremely wealthy. At first Victor uses Alicia for his own purposes. Later he proposes using her for his plan entailing voyeurism. However, a very unfortunate accident might possibly, with a bit of scheming, leave Alicia and Victor extremely wealthy. The question is, can they pull it off by outwitting the wealthy backers?
The rampant descriptions of blatant sex would preclude placing this book among the ranks of the cozies. For those who enjoy hard edged humor, this book will very well fit the bill. The characters, all despicable creations are a pure delight. In spite of their immorality, the reader will find them quite sympathetic. Interest never wanes as the reader roots for Victor and Alicia to succeed in their deception.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Doing the Horizontal Rhumba, or Dutch Treat Jan. 21 2003
Format:Paperback
Usually, a novel that splits right down the middle -- like a house divided against itself -- cannot stand. This one manages to, just barely. The first half is a raunchy romp with a Havana prostitute named Alicia, who manages to fall off her bicycle in an interesting way, and who strives to "trade up" toward a higher class of client. When she tangles with a shady international entrepreneur named Victor King, she finds her match until ...
Well, I shouldn't say what happens midway through the book, if only because it is so surprising and outlandish that it should be experienced without any lead-in. Suffice it to say that, quite suddenly, one finds oneself in a standard crime caper novel of the shaggy dog variety. The author's style metamorphoses into another genre, and the lovely Alicia is relegated to a subordinate role.
Only the ironic ending keeps me from downgrading the book to three stars. Daniel Chavarria obviously has talent as a writer, and has some of the juiciest sex scenes in recent literature, but he is no master of the genre. Paco Taibo, whose praise appears on the back, stands head and shoulders above him with his Hector Belascoaran Shayne novels. Yet I suspect that Chavarria is still young and has room to grow, and I look forward to reading his other works.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sex tourists gone astray Jan. 6 2003
Format:Paperback
Chavarria is no Dashiel Hammett. Nor is he a Reinaldo Arenas . . .and 'tho he shares Pedro Juan Gutierrez's (Dirty Havana Trilogy) appreciation of the consolations of tropical sexuality, he's not nearly as monomaniacal as Gutierrez, preferring instead to chain his erotics to a fast-paced and intriguing mystery plot. Set in contemporary Cuba, a nation desperate to modernize by delicately balancing the fruits of European and Latin American capital against the achievements of the Cuban Revolution, Adios Muchachos exploits that most typical setting where foreigner and native meet in Cuba - - the sexualized body of the Cuban woman. Chavarria's heroine possesses the most perfect "culo" in Havan, and like the enterprising jineteros or hustlers who sustain a dynamic entrepeneurial culture under the noses of the Revolution's guards, she deploys that asset to pull herself into the tourist economy and its prized dollars. When Cuban sexuality and ingenuity meet European libidos on a long leash from home - - the result is a whirlwind of disguise, counterplotting, and subterfuge. Buried within Adios Muchacho is a kind of charming allegory about the everyday power of the Cuban people to foil the return of postmodern, neo-liberal imperialists. A fun read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Overhyped Dec 31 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Amazon should enforce a policy of refusing reviews by those who admit they have not actually read the whole book. Indeed, the link to the review page states: "I have read this book, and I want to review it." I'm referring in particular to the person who has read only 1/3 of this book yet gives it five stars. On what basis? The first half of this book is simply a setup for what becomes in the second half an ordinary crime caper. The two sections are glued together in the center with incredibly stilted dialogue explaining what's going on, and most of the action throughout is implausible. The ending ties things up so neatly and pleasantly that it is clear the author lacks the tough edge demanded by the genre.
Chavarría, we are told on the back cover, spends half of the year in his native Uruguay and half in Italy. Where does Cuba fit into this equation? I suggest hardly at all. The novel gives no real hint of its surroundings and could easily have been written by someone who has never visited the island. If you want true noirs with local Cuban color, try the excellent José Latour. His "Outcast" has already been published in the U.S. to great acclaim, and his "Havana Best Friends" recently appeared in England. The latter, while also a crime caper, has a dozen believable and well drawn characters, whereas "Adios Muchachos" has only a few caricatures for characters.
Of course, if you really want to experience life in Cuba vicariously, try "Dirty Havana Trilogy," by Pedro Juan Gutiérrez. It is harrowing, brutal, and disgusting, but it is one of the most powerful and absorbing novels to be published in the last few years.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A disapointment
I had read very optimistic comments on this book and its author in the New York Times for some time, so I finally decided to get into the Latin mood. Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2004 by Buenoslibros.es
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are thinking about it, do it.
I'm only 1/3 of the way through this but already I know that I'll be buying this for lots of friends. Simply outstanding. Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2002 by B. R. Palmer
2.0 out of 5 stars Two stars are all I could find.
The stars tell it all. The future is not happening for this book. But I don't want to be a shrew, so I'll just say, I don't like to be bored while reading and leave it at that.
Published on Aug. 2 2002 by Evelyn O. Simon
1.0 out of 5 stars Depressing
I'm reviewing this not because I'm a big mystery fan (I like them only if they're very special, which this book definitely is not) or because "Adios Muchachos" won an... Read more
Published on July 30 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Sexy + Fun
Daniel Chavarria's Adios Muchachos is a fun little book exploring the world of prostitutes, unseemly businessmen and death in post-revolutionary Cuba. Read more
Published on May 5 2002 by Oliver Willis
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
This book was a big disappointment to me. The first third of the book is interesting but afterwards it all goes downhill from there. Read more
Published on April 8 2002 by Angel L. Soto
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite
Of course it's pulp fiction. The huge majority of books published today are pulp fiction. And so what? The difference is that Adios Muchachos is WELL WRITTEN pulp fiction. Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2001 by F. G. Hamer
3.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Bit of Pulp Fiction
This punchy little bit of pulp crime follows the schemes of Alicia, a Cuban prostitute looking to rope a millionaire husband, and Victor, a bank-robber turned executive in Dutch... Read more
Published on July 17 2001 by A. Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Pulp Fiction
Great pulp fiction. Moves fast. Doesn't fail to please.
Published on July 9 2001 by "cklim"
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