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The Cigar Rollerby Pablo Medina
Synopses & Reviews
Award-winning storyteller Pablo Medina's new novel is a radiant journey through the mind of Amadeo Terra, a Cuban cigar factory worker confined in a Florida hospital after a stroke has left him paralyzed. His body no longer works, but his mind is very much alive, as is his ruthless and audacious wit. His only human contact is with the callous nurse who constantly scolds him, the orderly who barely acknowledges him, and the nun who prays for Amadeo's salvation while he fantasizes about what's under her habit. One day Nurse feeds him mango from a baby-food jar — a departure from the usual bland mush — and the taste of it on his tongue brings memories of his life in Havana flooding back. Once a master cigar roller in Cuba and an imperious patriarch of enormous appetites, Amadeo now confronts the long-buried facts of his previously unexamined life. The Cigar Roller is an evocative portrait of a man whose life — once governed unapologetically by his most base urges — is now reduced mercilessly to its most basic functions.
"The final days of a paralyzed stroke victim provide the occasion for a poignant set of immigrant's reflections in Medina's latest. Amadeo Terra spends days and nights in his Catholic nursing home in Tampa silently raging against the neglect of his grown children and the shortcomings (and even brutality) of various staff caretakers. In between episodes of internalized anger, Terra relives his path to becoming a master cigar roller in Cuba, his emigration and work in Tampa's Ibor City cigar factories and his troubled marriage. Medina (The Return of Felix Nogarra) crafts a complex, rewarding novel out of a static setting. Passages in which Terra relives his romantic past, uses his bodily functions in retaliatory fashion or rails against the emptiness of life in Florida each have a particular texture. The darker final chapters work less well, as Medina ineffectively blurs Terra's relationship with his abusive father with ambulatory fantasies and Terra's final decline. But Medina's graceful use of the third person, into which he folds a multiplicity of perspectives with real lyricism, makes Terra seem to open outward into the world — as someone to whom things happen (in paralysis and before), but also as someone who asserts his humanity in whatever circumstances he finds himself. Medina skates perfectly between Terra's specificity and the universality of his plight, making Terra, his flaws and his struggles all the more compelling." Agent, Elaine Markson. (Mar.) Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A lovely novel, well worth the sadness and claustrophobia evoked by its hermetic setting." Miami Herald
"In the end, you'll be left wondering if your own reading impulses don't share something in common with those that push Amadeo to the edge and his ultimate demise." South Florida Sun-Sentinal
"Medina writes with exquisite detail and manages to sustain interest in a basically static situation." Library Journal
This award-winning storyteller's new novel is a radiant journey through the mind of Amadeo Terra, a Cuban cigar factory worker confined in a Florida hospital after a stroke has left him paralyzed.
About the Author
Pablo Medina was born in Havana, Cuba, where he lived the first twelve years of his life, and moved with his family to New York City in 1960. Since then, he has lived and written in a number of North American cities. He is the author of several works of poetry and prose, most recently The Cigar Roller: A Novel . Forthcoming in April 2005 is Points of Balance/Puntos de apoyo, a bilingual collection of poems. A Trumpet Sounds is his first published dramatic work. His poetry and prose have been widely published in periodicals and anthologies in the United States and abroad and he has received many awards, among them fellowships and grants from The Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the Cintas Foundation, and the state councils of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Currently on the writing faculty of New School University in New York City, he also teaches at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.
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