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The Halfway Houseby Guillermo Rosales
Synopses & Reviews
Never before available in English, is a trip to the darkest corners of the human condition. Humiliations, filth, stench, and physical abuse comprise the asphyxiating atmosphere of a halfway house for indigents in Miami where, in a shaken mental state, the writer William Figueras lives after his exile from Cuba. He claims to have gone crazy after the Cuban government judged his first novel "morose, pornographic, and also irreverent, because it dealt harshly with the Communist Party," and prohibited its publication. By the time he arrives in Miami twenty years later, he is a "toothless, skinny, frightened guy who had to be admitted to a psychiatric ward that very day" instead of the ready-for-success exile his relatives expected to welcome and receive among them. Placed in a halfway house, with its trapped bestial inhabitants and abusive overseers, he enters a hell. Romance appears in the form of Frances, a mentally fragile woman and an angel, with whom he tries to escape in this apocalyptic classic of Cuban literature. "Behind the hardly one hundred pages," stated, "is the work of a tireless fabulist, a writer who delights in language, extracting verbs and adjectives which are powerful enough to stop the reader in his tracks."
"This posthumous translation of Rosales, a Cuban-American writer who committed suicide in 1993, delivers a raw, powerful story set in a Miami home for the mentally ill. William Figueras, a 38-year-old writer who, like the author, is an exile from Cuba and suffers schizophrenia, is deposited in a 'boarding house' by his aunt, because 'nothing more can be done.' His writing was deemed 'morose, pornographic, and also irrelevant' by the Cuban government, and now he has grown as hopeless and abandoned as the other desperate outcasts who inhabit the shabby home owned by the miserly Mr. Curbelo and run by a beer-guzzling flunky named Arsenio. Figueras despises the other residents and clearly recognizes how they are being exploited by Mr. Curbelo and Arsenio, yet out of his own state of self-debasement, he joins in the cruelty. Briefly, hope inspires him in the form of a new female inmate, and together they plan an escape. However, life outside promises to be more treacherous than staying in the ward. It's a frightening, nihilistic cousin of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This posthumous translation of Rosales, a Cuban-American writer who committed suicide in 1993, delivers a raw, powerful story set in a Miami home for the mentally ill... It's a frightening, nihilistic cousin of ."--
A halfway house is ostensibly a refuge for the mentally ill and those abandoned to poverty by their respective families. However, Rosales writes about a particular house '" ruled by an abusive supervisor who sees the house as his personal kingdom and occasionally uses its residents for his sexual pleasures. The central characters are a Cuban American man in his thirties and his equally mentally unstable love, a young woman in her twenties, who try to flee the halfway house. Saddled down by his books and her numerous belongings, they only manage to get far enough away for a taste of real freedom. Sad, tender, and dark, The Halfway Houseintroduces an important Cuban writer to American readers.
About the Author
Guillermo Rosales (Cuba, 1946 — Miami, 1993) was a very well known writer within the Cuban and Cuban-American communities. Sadly, he destroyed nearly all of his work before committing suicide. Luckily, The Halfway House was spared and published posthumously in Spanish.
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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