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The Autobiography of Fidel Castroby Norberto Fuentes
Synopses & Reviews
Prize-winning author and journalist Norberto Fuentes was once a revolutionary: a writer with privileged access to Fidel Castro's inner circle during some the most challenging years of the revolution. But in the late 1990s, as the regime began sending its oldest comrades to the firing squad, he became A Man Who Knew Too Much. Escaping a death sentence and now living in exile, Fuentes has written a brilliant, satirical, and utterly captivating autobiography of the Cuban leader — in Fidel's own arrogant and seductive language — discussing everything from Castro's early sexual experiences in Biran to his true feelings about Che Guevara and his philosophy on murder, legacy, and state secrets. Critics have long admired Fuentes's writing; one U.S. article called him Norman Mailer's Cuban pen pal. Akin to Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, or Edmund Morris's Dutch, this wickedly entertaining, true-to-life masterpiece is as imaginative and outsized as Castro himself.
"Fuentes, an old friend of Fidel Castro who escaped a death sentence in 1990s Cuba and now lives in exile in Florida, delivers a clever, ballsy and colorful faux autobiography of the Communist icon. 'With this book,' Fuentes-as-Castro writes, 'I am not trying to reject anything or defend myself, but to leave behind an interpretation from my own hands, or rather, from my own mouth, of the events in which I am the protagonist.' Castro comes across as megalomaniacal and charming, his hilarious bravado a perfect complement to a profoundly unreliable narrator. Castro reflects on everything from the murder of his first political rival and his campaign against Batista to the Bay of Pigs and the missile crisis to the almost present day. Though peppered with gossipy asides, the story remains strong, mostly linear and always captivating. Fuentes tells Castro's story without questioning himself, and is so convincing that readers may forget this is fiction." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[T]his isn't history, but it is enjoyable, interesting, and probably as accurate a portrait as we are likely to get." Booklist
"Fuentes here intertwines the literary with the political, providing...a distinctive and fascinating perspective on historical events.... an engaging selection." Library Journal
An audacious "biography" of the ex-president of Cuba told in Castro's own outrageous, bombastic voice.
"A compelling fictional personage-by turns arrogant, funny, pompous, lewd, self-absorbed and self-deluding."—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Ambitiously brazen in its mythic reinvention of such a major icon, this book is also an enormously readable and entertaining literary achievement of a high order." --William Kennedy "The best revenge is writing well, and by writing the comandante's autobiography for him, Norberto Fuentes is having his sweet revenge on Fidel. It's a brilliant, funny, ultimately deeply moving novel, an unforgettable portrait of Fidel and at the same time an historically important first-person account of the Cuban Revolution and its aftermath." --Russell Banks "Fuentes dug through the embers of Hemingway's life at Finca Vigía and discovered traces of his heart...a man troubled by the uncertainty and brevity of life, who was able to decipher, as few have done in human history, the practical mysteries of the most solitary occupation in the world."--Gabriel García Márquez, on "Fuentes is a great writer and a Cuban national treasure."--Daniel Patrick Moynihan "Norberto Fuentes...immediately found the tone that distinguishes the writers who have recently emerged from civil wars at all latitudes--that is to say, the few real writers --who do not seek to create celebrations or evocations of sentiment or pedagogical displays: a posture of fierce happiness, of brutal truculence, of cunning and anti-heroic realism, full of the ruthless irony that arises naturally when one lives in the continuous presence of death." --Italo Calvino, on
About the Author
Norberto Fuentes has written ten books, including Hemingway in Cuba. His work has been praised by writers such as Italo Calvino, William Kennedy, and Gabriel García Márquez. He lives in Coral Gables, Florida.
Anna Kushner is the translator of two forthcoming books, The Halfway House by Guillermo Rosales and The Autobiography of Fidel Castro by Norberto Fuentes. She was a finalist for the John Guyon Literary Nonfiction Prize in 2007.
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