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Inspired by their heroes Xavier Cugat and Desi Arnaz, brothers Cesar and Nestor Castillo come to New York City from Cuba in 1949 with designs on becoming mambo stars. Eventually they do--performing with Arnaz on "I Love Lucy" in 1955 and recording 78s with their own band, the Mambo Kings. In his second novel, Hijuelos traces the lives of the flashy, guitar-strumming Cesar and the timid, lovelorn Nestor as they cruise the East Coast club circuit in a flamingo-pink bus. Enriching the story are the brothers' friends and family members--all driven by their own private dreams. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The Mambo Kings are two brothers, Cesar and Nestor Castillo, Cuban-born musicians who emigrate to New York City in 1949. They form a band and enjoy modest success, playing dance halls, nightclubs and quince parties in New York's Latin neighborhoods. Their popularity peaks in 1956 with a guest appearance on the I Love Lucy show, playing Ricky Ricardo's Cuban cousins and performing their only hit song in a bittersweet event that both frames the novel and serves as its emblematic heart. Hijuelos's first novel, Our House in the Last World , was justly praised for its tender vignettes of emigre Cuban life; here, he tells of the triumphs and tragedies that befall two men blessed with gigantic appetites and profoundly melancholic hearts--Cesar, the elder, and the bandleader, committed to the pursuit of life's pleasures, and Nestor, he of the "dark, soulful countenance," forever plunging through a dark, Latin gloom. In a performance that deepens the canon of American ethnic literature, Hijuelos evokes, by day, a New York of crowded Harlem apartments made cheery by Cuban hospitality, and by night, a raucous club scene of stiletto heels and waxy pompadours--all set against a backdrop of a square, 1950s America that thinks worldliness means knowing the cha-cha. With an unerring ear for period idioms ("Hello you big lug") and a comic generosity that renders even Cesar's sexual bravado forgivable if not quite believable, Hijuelos has depicted a world as enchanting (yet much closer to home) as that in Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera . The lyricism of Hijuelos's language is wonderfully restrained, conveying with equal facility ribald comedy and heartfelt pathos. Despite a questionable choice of narrative conceit (Cesar recollects the novel from a seedy "Hotel Splendour" in 1980), Hijuelos's pure storytelling skills commission every incident with a life and breath of its own.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I read this book with few interruptions, save sleep. Perhaps, as it was not written in a day, it may have better not too consume too much too quickly, like a good wine needs time... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Kindle Customer
The lives of Cuban immigrant musicians explored. Two brothers, Nestor & Cesar, part of "The Mambo Kings", playing their music, making records, finding fame, until a traffic... Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2003 by Teresa Jansen
Anybody coming out of this book disappointed is missing the point completely--the Pulitzer Prize may be highly sought after in literary circles, but it's not the 'Holy Grail'. Read morePublished on June 12 2003 by Greekfreak
After I read this book, I immediately read all of Hijuelos' other books; this one remains the best of them all. Read morePublished on March 19 2003 by J Osorio
For my psych. self development course my teacher chose this book for us to read. I was very much into it at first, even with my busy schedule I was able to read much at a time... Read morePublished on Nov. 17 2002
The moment I started to read The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, I knew I would like it. The writing is descriptive and creative, and the author, Oscar Hijuelos makes you want to... Read morePublished on Dec 18 2001 by Ashley
"The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love" is a book that has really made me ask myself who and what I want to be as a person. Read morePublished on Dec 15 2001 by Brian Cox
I'm re-reading this novel for a class and find it as moving as the first time around. If you're interested in this novel, however, try a different edition than the perennial... Read morePublished on Nov. 26 2001