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Alan Cambeira "author of Azucar's Trilogy" (Dominican Republic, author of Tattered Paradise...Azucar's Trilogy Ends)
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The Dew Breaker
The Dew Breaker
by Edwidge Danticat
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.60
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Framing The Unmasterable, Memoried Past, April 17 2004
This review is from: The Dew Breaker (Hardcover)
Danticat is enormously good for us, especially now. She reminds us of the beautiful literary spirit of Haiti... much like that glorious cadre of revolutionary Haitian women literary figures Ghislaine Charlier, Jan J. Dominique, Nadine Magloire, and of course Marie Chauvet and more recently Myriam Chancy. Exquisite writers all. Danticat, like her sisters, reminds us of the rich literary legacy that truly celebrates all that is beautiful about this much maligned and misunderstood country. Danticat herself, in my view, is an accident of literary privilege, a formidably keen observer or witness to events that have happened or to what is currently happening. This story, The Dew Breaker, while a horribly true tale of interwoven lives connected gruesomely by the "beast", actually chose her; she is the extremely gifted and talented vessel that serves to receive this story.
Is there redemption for the protagonist, the shoukèt laroze himself? I don't know. Perhaps even Danticate isn't quite certain. The protagonist, an ultimately pathetic soul, is caught up in a nightmarish episode of reality --as is all of Haiti. As his daughter peels away the layers of his humanity, penetrating ever so deeper into his tortured soul to see just who he is, she too (like us) arrives at the point of moral ambiguity about her father. The skillful artistry in Danticat actually tortures us with this sense of indefiniteness ... which is what all excellent writers often do, of course. With measured steps,the author takes a daring literary plunge into the often risky arena between the short story and the novella. She triumphs wonderfully. In telling a painfully good story, Danticat presents us with real people agonizing in their search for answers, explanations and understandings. M' pa di passé ça.
Definitely recommended reading.
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah's Book Club)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah's Book Club)
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Edition: Paperback
190 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Existence Is The Word, March 7 2004
By now, of course, the entire world is familiar with this stellar masterpiece that introduced Latin American literature to North American readers (last to join an already buzzing worldwide readership). The work has been translated even into languages like Quiché, Guaraní and Catalán. This unusual tale depicts the origins and ultimate demise of the mythical town of Macondo through the saga of the enigmatic Buendía family. In this richly symbolic and multilayered chronicle of life and death -- with repeating names, endless revolutions and deluvial rains, lust, incest, death, a search for truth and a plague of menacing red ants-- we are witness to the magical realism that essentially defines Latin America in every regard. To understand intimately Latin America is to understand the subtleties and wry humor of ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE.
This novel by Gabriel García Márquez, my absolute favorite author without exception, was first published in 1967 in Argentina under the title CIEN AÑOS DE SOLDEDAD, with the English translation appearing in 1970. It must have been about 1972-73 when I first read the original Spanish version and became enraptured immediately by the brilliance of this masterful piece of Latin American fiction, the most unusually crafted and the most widely discussed/debated literary creation in several decades across Latin America. Since its initial success worldwide, this rare gem has seen accompanying study guides, essays, dissertations, seminars, related university courses, entire books authored by noted contemporary literary figures devoted to the subject of interpreting this novel as well as to the author's entire body of literary production. I recall once viewing (1985) a personal interview filmed by the author, "García Márquez está cansado de las equivocaciones de la crítica" [GM is tired of the errors of the criticism]. The artist himself set the record straight regarding what he intended in this monumentally ambitious tale.
Here in a nutshell for novice readers of Latin American literature translated into English are the preeminent themes running through this mystical novel: the interconnectedness of myth, reality, time and space; myth and history; the journey through the labyrinth of Latin American reality; the intertextuality of fiction and reality; a reality called "fiction"; the three levels of reality in one hundred years; violence and death as imaginary acts from a Latin perspective; man in search of himself in the surrealism of time and space; Macondo as a distinctive magical and Latin American domain; the fictionalization of history; the comic and carnivalesque; the subversion of time and space; geneological imperatives; the origins of Western civilization in Latin America; a portrait of Latin America: civilization vs barbarism; the Latin American novel as symbol of myth and archive; the tragic cylce and concept of collective identity and simultaneity; Latin American history as hieroglyphics; and perhaps finally ... the myth of apocalipse and human temporality.
Gracias, Oprah, for bringing to the eager attention of your book club readers this serious literary work intended to provoke thought and a profoundly important classic from my part of the world. Next, please allow them to be equally seduced by the likes of Isabel Allende, Marise Condé, René Depestre, Luz Argentina Chiriboga or Earl Lovelace.
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)

House On The Lagoon
House On The Lagoon
by Rosario Ferre
Edition: Paperback
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Intertextuality, March 7 2004
This review is from: House On The Lagoon (Paperback)
Rosario Ferré is without doubt a formidable writer with broad literary formation (holding a doctorate in Latin American literature) and impressive versatility in genres: short story, poetry, essay, novelist. She joins that welcomed and exciting cadre of Latina writers who skillfully articulates profound feminist concerns in their respective societies. In THE HOUSE ON THE LAGOON, Ferré presents two of her constantly recurring themes that form the core of her literary trajectory: Puerto Rican reality past and present ... the agonizing socio-psychological consequences produced by the unique historical-political-economic link to the United States; and Latina feminism accompanied by society's ugly prejudicial response. This story offers a highly critical view of Puerto Rican society with a bold reinterpretation of her island's history. As in all her tales and essays (as she herself has revealed) there is a thinly veiled autobiographical reflection. Ferré crafts a stunning literary language that expresses itself via surreal images similar to those that characterized the vanguard writers and visual artists of the opening decades of the twentieth century. In Spanish we call the technique "desdoblamiento" -- the exposition or unfolding of images to narrate the events afflicting her protagonists. It perhaps functions more intensively in the original Spanish. But what results in essence is a mystical fusion of fiction and reality ... magical realism. This is a mesmerizing work by an extremely talented writer and is highly recommended.
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)

Living to Tell the Tale
Living to Tell the Tale
by Gabriel García Márquez
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.16
77 used & new from CDN$ 1.52

5.0 out of 5 stars An Amalgam of Marquezian Genius, Nov. 26 2003
Thankfully, volumes of scholarly papers will continue to be written, seminars and graduate-level university courses will continue to be developed focusing upon this literary giant --and deservingly so. We are all the more priviledged as beneficiaries of this extraordinary talent. Garcia Marquez writes with the simplicity, serenity, ease and purity that are the mark of an absolute master. His ingenius combination of grace and vibrancy is astonishing. With this new offering, Living to Tell the Tale [Vivir Para Contarla], it all comes together in this long-anticipated personal account of one of the world's remaining literary treasures. The imagery of Garcia Marquez, my all-time favorite writer, is breathtakingly superb. Here we have an exquisite amalgam of Marquezian genius: all the fabulous characters, descriptions and locales we have come to know and cherish from the full range of his fiction. I couldn't agree more with those insightful reviewers who wishly urge for anyone new to Garcia Marquez a necessary reading of several of his important novels prior to indulging in this glorious triumph: "One Hundred Years of Solitude," "Love in the Times of Cholera," "No One Writes to the Colonel," and "The General in His Labyrinth." And for anyone able to read the original Spanish version is indeed for a sublime treat. Don Gabriel, mil gracias de nuevo; you are Humanity's Gift to the World!
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)

Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo
Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo
by Hayden Herrera
Edition: Paperback
27 used & new from CDN$ 2.42

5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal Study on Enigmatic Personality, Nov. 18 2003
This is an extremely important, long overdue and commanding work on one of the most significant artistic personalities of the 20th century. The author, Hayden Herrera, is perhaps one of the few best qualified writers to present this indepth, intense penetration into the tumultuous life and work of such a complex figure in the art world. Frida Kahlo, as readers/viewers in the United States by now are aware, created some of the most unconventionally brilliant --even shocking works of arts the world has seen. Herrera's impeccable scholarship and research skills are impressive and at the same time delicately compassionate and vibrant. The movie version, by the way, was wonderful and Salma Hayek was amazing in the lead role. Thank you Hayden; thank you Frida! Absolutely spectacular subject.
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)

When I Was Puerto Rican
When I Was Puerto Rican
by Esmeralda Santiago
Edition: Paperback
71 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Gift From Santiago, Nov. 2 2003
A joyful and proud eulogy to the island of her youth. Santiago is a wonderfully talented voice that exudes passion. The title alone, When I WAS Puerto Rican, is at first intriguing. But we soon learn the profound sense of this past tense usage. I read Santiago's memories in Spanish, which, in my view presents her story in a distinctive poetic prose, rhythm and rhapsody (often characteristic in Spanish) that is absolutely captivating. However, what is most appealing about this autobiogaphy, interwoven delightfully with memorable and richly detailed anecdotes, is the moving revelation that Santiago shares with her readers who don't know what it means to be caught in the agonizing web of dual-identities/dual-allegiances that is largely the Puerto Rican Experience ... as well as other North American immigrant experiences. This writer has presented us with a lyrical gift of enormous joy. High on the list of Must-Read novels, especially those by the new cadre of Latina writers. If you haven't as yet seen the excellent movie version of the sequel to this novel, Almost A Woman, do so. Wanda de Jesus is brilliant in the lead role.
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)

Beyond The Limbo Silence
Beyond The Limbo Silence
by Elizabeth Nunez
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.27
31 used & new from CDN$ 0.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Fiction, Oct. 26 2003
The widely respected and extremely talented author of When Rocks Dance and Bruished Hibiscus, Elizabeth Nunez brings us another powerful, lyrically superb piece of writing in BEYOND THE LIMBO SILENCE. Among a growing list of gifted writers from Trinidad-Tobago, Nunez chronicles the agonizing personal struggles of Sara Edgehill as she leaves her native Trinidad for a Catholic women's college in radically different Wisconsin. But there's much more to this story than merely "making cultural adjustments in a new environment." The author skillfully and brilliantly interweaves and delicately balances socio-politics and artistry into a bold intellectual defiance of literary convention by inviting the reader into the sometimes unfathomable mysticism of Caribbean reality. And what better historical vehicle to employ than the explosive dynamics of the 60s? I have had the pleasure of hearing Ms Nunez speak before a live university forum and this story to me reads more like a stolen page from her own life that she has chosen to share with us than a fictional account of a young girl experiencing college life in a faraway land. this is vigorously commanding storytelling which I admire greatly. This is a MUST READ novel.
Alan Cambeira
Author of Azucar! The Story of Sugar (a novel)

Le Fin
Le Fin
by Victoria Taylor Murray
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from CDN$ 3.38

5.0 out of 5 stars "The Big Screen Awaits", Oct. 21 2003
This review is from: Le Fin (Paperback)
The long-awaited final episode, LE FIN, of Victoria Murray's Lambert Series closes the fun-filled romantic-suspense adventure of these remarkable characters. LE FIN is terrific -- just as tantalizing as the previous segments. All the characters and their intrigue stay with us. And Victoria, I know your're far too courageous to be dispirited by your distractors. I also am certain that the Big Screen awaits the Lambert Series.
Very Highly Recommended.

They Forged the Signature of God: A Novel
They Forged the Signature of God: A Novel
by Viriato Sención
Edition: Paperback
11 used & new from CDN$ 7.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Intense Authenticity Woven Throughout, Oct. 16 2003
Imagine in modern times a novel so powerfully authentic that the author's very life is placed in danger. Or that having initially won the nation's prestigious National Fiction Award upon publication, the prize is immediatley snatched away by the President because of its perceived personal offense to that president. What serious reader of good literature could possibly resist such excitement (however frightening) surrounding a first novel? Such is only part of the sordid history of Viriato Sencion's sensational novel They Forged the Signature of God.
The story is straightforward and uncomplicated. It narrates the maturation of three seminary students as they try to understand life against the nightmarish socio-political backdrop dominated by the monstruous dictator Tirano and his enigmatic cohort and successor Dr. Mario Ramos. The author skillfully incorporates real-life individuals and places under fictitious names. Thus, it isn't difficult to unmask Tirano as the diabolical and ruthless dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, Ramos as Dr. Joaquin Balaguer, and the nameless Caribbean island-nation is the Dominican Republic. The student Arturo is Sencion's own alter ego. But we must be careful not to catagorize this novel as either a political expose or political biography; it is more correctly a brilliantly crafted and unique artistic text. The author's only dilemma, I suggest, is the problematic element of fusing literature and reality. The striking dominance of authenticity seduces the reader into sharing the intensity of "lo dominicano" --that is, the Dominican Experience in all its essence and intensity. Sencion, for example, effectively captures the language and its distinct subtleties of orality as spoken and heard on the Island. For this reason among many others, I personally preferred the original Spanish version [Los que falsificaron la firma de Dios, 1992]. I agree totally with the renown Dominican intellectual giant and literary critic Silvio Torres-Saillant when he observes that "Sencion's artistry is one of the most important contributions in recent years to Dominican Letters." Sencion's prose resonates in elegance.
A Highly Recommended Novel.
Alan Cambeira, Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)

Crossing the Mangrove
Crossing the Mangrove
by Maryse Conde
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.68
54 used & new from CDN$ 0.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Conde: The Classic Literary Maroon, Oct. 12 2003
This review is from: Crossing the Mangrove (Paperback)
The reader must not readily assume (quite a mistake) that this is a conventional detective mystery, even one with Caribbean cadences. Far from being so. Rather, this is an exhilarating celebration of the intricate balancing of the complexities of cultural diversity in the region. Without equal, Conde is both brilliant and powerful in presenting an honest portrait of Caribbean society, most particularly the richness of the Guadeloupean society. The murdered stranger, Francis Sancher, is symbolic of the long history of the Caribbean itself: the influential, intrusive "outsider" that serves as catalyst for change. But be careful; Sancher is not the central character here. If one reads all of Conde's novels together (an experience well worth the time), one observes a fascinating personal evolution in setting, form, artistry, and content: from Africa, the United States and the anglophone Antilles, then finally to the francophone zone. This geographical movement parallels precisely the author's emotional/psychological journey back to her native Guadeloupe. Conde is the classic literary maroon, so central, in my opinion, to the Caribbean literary tradition: while promoting independence for others, she simultaneously claims it for herself. She, by the way, is a longtime supporter of independence from France of the entire francophone territories. As a writer, Conde definitely heads the list of the region's most stellar and talented. All her novels are MUST READ works.
Alan Cambeira, Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)

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