About the Book:
On July 26, 2003, the 50th anniversary of the Moncada Army Barracks raid in Santiago de Cuba, something unexpected happens. When Fidel Pérez and his brother accidentally tumble to their deaths from their Havana balcony, the neighbors’ outcry, “Fidel has fallen,” is misinterpreted by those who hear it. The misinformation quickly ripples outward, and it reawakens the city. Three Cubans in particular are affected by the news—an elderly vagrant Saturnina, Professor Pedro Valle, and his student Camilo—all haunted by the past and now forced to confront a new future, perhaps another revolution. Their stories are beautifully intertwined as they converge in the frantic crowd that gathers in La Plaza de la Revolución.
By turns humorous and deeply poignant, The Death of Fidel Pérez reflects on the broken promises of the Cuban Revolution and reveals the heart of a people with a long collective memory.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Huergo was born in Havana and immigrated to the United States at an early age as a political refugee. A published poet and story writer, she lives in Virginia. The Death of Fidel Perez is her first novel.
This was a stretch for me; another attempt to broaden my reading with a literary fiction choice. The history of Cuba is pretty complete blank in my knowledge base and perhaps had I known more the book would have resonated with me. I am sure that for those that know the history the book will have great meaning.
I was drawn in at the start as Ms. Huergo sent her tale on its way as her titular character stumbles out onto a balcony with a less than stable railing and falls to his death along with his brother who tried, but failed to save him. As the neighbors gather at the scene the crowd at the back asks what has happened and the answer makes it way to them, “Fidel and his brother have fallen!” Those immediate to the accident know that it is Fidel Perez and his brother but the crowd carries the rumor that Fidel CASTRO and his brother are the ones that have fallen and a cautious sense of optimism starts to build as the people gather. No news can be found as it is a time of rolling blackouts in Havana.
The book focuses on three main characters; a street woman who lost her son in the revolution of 1959 of which this day is the anniversary. A professor who had been taken prisoner and brutally tortured during the same time and one of his students. Each deals with the rumor in their own way yet they meet each other throughout the storyline.
Much of the book deals with otherworldly aspects; the street woman is convinced her dead son will rise and return to her. The professor converses with a friend he betrayed to his torturers. This is where I had my problems; with my literal mind set I cannot grasp the allegorical concepts that I am sure are running through these conversations. This book was just plain over my head. It doesn’t mean it was a bad book, it just was not a book for me.
You can purchase The Death of Fidel Perez on Amazon.com
Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of The Death of Fidel Perez by Unbridled Books for my honest review. I received no compensation for this post.