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This title in other editions

A Simple Habana Melody

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A Simple Habana Melody Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

From Powells.com:

Oscar Hijuelos skillfully evoked the excitement and passion of Cuban music in The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. So skillfully, in fact, that the novel went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. In Hijuelos's most recent novel, A Simple Habana Melody, music's ability to convey passion and summon old memories is once again a recurrent theme. However, unlike his five previous novels which predominantly explored the Cuban immigrant experience in America, A Simple Habana Melody tells the story of Israel Levis, whose extraordinary life begins and ends in Habana.

Levis is a composer and in 1928 writes a song, "Rosas Puras," or "Pretty Roses," for his unrequited love Rita Valladares. The song becomes the most popular rumba in the world. His fame catapults him to Europe, where his hedonistic lifestyle in Paris is cut short by the war as he becomes witness to one of humankind's darkest hours. Hijuelos, having recently turned fifty, says he wrote A Simple Habana Melody as a celebration of the music of his native country and the people who inspire it. This vivid and lyrical portrait of Cuba's past is tribute indeed — a glorious, sensual and moving novel. Georgie, Powells.com

Publisher Comments:

It is 1947, and Israel Levis, a Cuban composer whose life had once been a dream of music, love, and sadness, returns to Cuba after being mistakenly imprisoned during the Nazi occupation of France.

When Levis arrives back in Habana, his mind returns to an unrequited romance with the alluring Rita Valladares, a singer for whom Levis had written his most famous song, "Rosas Puras." This 1928 composition became the most famous rumba in the world and changed American and European tastes in music and dance forever.

A love story—of art, family, and country—A Simple Habana Melody is a virtuoso performance from one of our most important writers.

Review:

"Pulitzer-winner Hijuelos is at his massively engaging best. A masterpiece of history, music, wonder, and sorrow. Riveting." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"[A] haunting story....Like the most tender of ballads, this heartbreaking novel laments lost love while it helps us remember how love felt when we were young." Bill Ott, Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"While there is a faintly contrived air about Levis's experience of the Holocaust, Hijuelos triumphs in capturing the sights and sounds of Habana at the edge of modernity." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"[A]n engaging, lyrical portrait....And it is arguably Hijuelos' most focused effort since the stunning Mambo Kings....[I]ts bittersweet strains will resonate long after the last page is turned." Allan Turner, The Houston Chronicle

Review:

"[A] story so achingly beautiful, so full of passion, regret and the power of memory, it is deserving of the term masterpiece....An exceptional life, elegantly told by an artist of exceptional gifts." Sam Harrison, BookPage

Review:

"[M]any of Hijuelos' gifts are in evidence...but a focus on remembrance of things long past ends up dragging the book down....[W]ritten in ravishing prose, but the story skirts the most compelling details of its subject's life... (Grade: B)" Jenny Shank, Rocky Mountain News

Review:

"Powerfully evocative of the music and moods of the period, this novel is highly recommended as both psychological and 'show biz' fiction." Library Journal

Synopsis:

At the request of his favorite entertainer (and secret love of his life), Rita Valladares, Israel Levis quickly writes the catchy tune "Rosas Puras," for her to perform on her latest tour. While the song is turned into a musical, a movie starring Fred Astaire, and performed by famous singers and orchestras worldwide, Israel grows to despise this "simple Havana melody," and would prefer to be known for his more serious compositions.

Israel's fame takes him to the Paris of the 1930s and 40s, where the clubs are swinging, the brothels are abundant, and the threat of Hitler looms on the horizon. When the Nazis take over France, Israel stays, knowing that he is a good Catholic. Yet because of his name, he is mistaken for a Jew, and sent to Buchenwald.

This is a love-story — for art, family, and country — as well as a portrait of Habana at the turn of the last century, when "the world was good." A Simple Habana Melody is a virtuoso performance from one of our most important writers.

About the Author

Oscar Hijuelos was born of Cuban parentage in New York City in 1951. He is a recipient of the Rome Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. His five previous novels have been translated into twenty-five languages.


Oscar Hijuelos nació de padres cubanos en Nueva York en 1951. Sus otras novelas incluyen Mr. Ives' Christmas, The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien, Our House in the Last World y A Simple Havana Melody (Una Sencilla Melodía Habanera). Vive en Nueva York.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060928698
Author:
Hijuelos, Oscar
Publisher:
Harper Perennial
Location:
New York, NY
Subject:
General
Subject:
World war, 1939-1945
Subject:
Paris
Subject:
Composers
Subject:
Cuba
Subject:
Women singers
Subject:
Havana
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Musical fiction.
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Perennial ed.
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series Volume:
1
Publication Date:
June 17, 2003
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.35x5.12x.93 in. .68 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

A Simple Habana Melody Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Perennial (HarperCollins) - English 9780060928698 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Pulitzer-winner Hijuelos is at his massively engaging best. A masterpiece of history, music, wonder, and sorrow. Riveting."
"Review" by , "[A] haunting story....Like the most tender of ballads, this heartbreaking novel laments lost love while it helps us remember how love felt when we were young."
"Review" by , "While there is a faintly contrived air about Levis's experience of the Holocaust, Hijuelos triumphs in capturing the sights and sounds of Habana at the edge of modernity."
"Review" by , "[A]n engaging, lyrical portrait....And it is arguably Hijuelos' most focused effort since the stunning Mambo Kings....[I]ts bittersweet strains will resonate long after the last page is turned."
"Review" by , "[A] story so achingly beautiful, so full of passion, regret and the power of memory, it is deserving of the term masterpiece....An exceptional life, elegantly told by an artist of exceptional gifts."
"Review" by , "[M]any of Hijuelos' gifts are in evidence...but a focus on remembrance of things long past ends up dragging the book down....[W]ritten in ravishing prose, but the story skirts the most compelling details of its subject's life... (Grade: B)"
"Review" by , "Powerfully evocative of the music and moods of the period, this novel is highly recommended as both psychological and 'show biz' fiction."
"Synopsis" by , At the request of his favorite entertainer (and secret love of his life), Rita Valladares, Israel Levis quickly writes the catchy tune "Rosas Puras," for her to perform on her latest tour. While the song is turned into a musical, a movie starring Fred Astaire, and performed by famous singers and orchestras worldwide, Israel grows to despise this "simple Havana melody," and would prefer to be known for his more serious compositions.

Israel's fame takes him to the Paris of the 1930s and 40s, where the clubs are swinging, the brothels are abundant, and the threat of Hitler looms on the horizon. When the Nazis take over France, Israel stays, knowing that he is a good Catholic. Yet because of his name, he is mistaken for a Jew, and sent to Buchenwald.

This is a love-story — for art, family, and country — as well as a portrait of Habana at the turn of the last century, when "the world was good." A Simple Habana Melody is a virtuoso performance from one of our most important writers.

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