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Dancing to "Almendra"by Mayra Montero
Synopses & Reviews
Havana, 1957. On the same day that the Mafia capo Umberto Anastasia is assassinated in a barber’ s chair in New York, a hippopotamus escapes from the Havana zoo and is shot and killed by its pursuers. Assigned to cover the zoo story, Joaquí n Porrata, a young Cuban journalist, instead finds himself embroiled in the mysterious connections between the hippo’ s death and the mobster’ s when a secretive zookeeper whispers to him that he “ knows too much.” In exchange for a promise to introduce the keeper to his idol, the film star George Raft, now the host of the Capri Casino, Joaquí n gets information that ensnares him in an ever-thickening plot of murder, mobsters, and, finally, love. The love story is, of course, another mystery. Told by Yolanda, a beautiful ex-circus performer now working for the famed cabaret San Souci, it interleaves through Joaquí n’ s underworld investigations, eventually revealing a family secret deeper even than Havana’ s brilliantly evoked enigmas. In Dancing to Almendra, Mayra Montero has created an ardent and thrilling tale of innocence lost, of Havana’ s secret world that is “ the basis for the clamor of the city, ” and of the end of a violent era of fantastic characters and extravagant crimes. Based on the true history of a bewitching city and its denizens, Almendra is the latest “ triumph” (Library Journal) from one of Latin America’ s most impassioned and intoxicating voices.
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Havana, 1957. On the same day that the Mafia capo Umberto Anastasia is assassinated in a barber's chair in New York, a hippopotamus escapes from the zoo and is shot and killed by its pursuers. Assigned to cover the zoo story, Joaquin Porrata, a young Cuban journalist, finds himself embroiled in the mysterious connections between the hippo's death and the mafioso's in this intoxicating story of murder, mobsters, and, finally, love.
About the Author
Mayra Montero is the author of a collection of short stories and of eight novels, including The Messenger, The Last Night I Spent with You, and Captain of the Sleepers. She was born in Cuba and lives in Puerto Rico, where she writes a weekly column in El Nuevo Dia newspaper.
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