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Captain of the Sleepersby Mayra Montero
Synopses & Reviews
For fifty years, Andres Yasin has carried a grudge against J.T. Bunker. Now, Bunker, eighty-two years old and dying of cancer, wants to tell his side of a story, a story of his affair with Andres's mother. As a child Andres knew Bunker as the "Captain of the Sleepers" — so called because he transported the bodies of those who had died off the island, but wished to be buried at home. But what really happened between Bunker and Andres's mother, between his mother and her next lover, a leader in the Puerto Rican Nationalistic Insurrection, and what were the actual circumstances of Andres's mother's mysterious death?
In this taut, erotic novel that slips effortlessly between past and present, remembrance and reality, Mayra Montero describes a feverish Caribbean childhood of secrets, disillusionment, and sexual awakening. Beautifully translated by Edith Grossman, The Captain of the Sleepers confirms Montero's stature as one of our finest prose stylists and as an international writer of the first rank.
"The yearnings of adolescence clash with adult passions romantic and political in a sensuous, languid novel by Montero (Deep Purple), set in Puerto Rico during the 1950s nationalist movement. Told in flashback, the narrative alternates between the year 2000, when the protagonist, Andrs Yasn, and pilot J.T. Bunker, the titular captain, confront each other in old age over a memory questioned and a story untold, and half a century earlier, on the island of Vieques. In 1950, the Captain had an affair with 12-year-old Andrs's mother, Estela, who was married a Vieques hotel owner, but also in love with a rogue nationalist named Roberto. As the Puerto Rican nationalist movement comes to a head and Estela caves to passion with Roberto, Andrs's family splinters, and he blames the Captain. Montero's atmospheric, minimal prose beautifully conjures the sensitivity, ardor and craving for normality that define adolescence. Exquisite flashes of lust and corrosive jealousy, among the adults and young Andrs alike, vivify the narrative with such evocative phrases as 'a look of such gratitude — that carnal, fiery gratitude filled with passwords.' Though the enigmatic Estela leaves an unsatisfying void at the novel's center, Montero artfully choreographs the confluence of family, romantic and revolutionary ardor. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A haunting tale of a small place overrun by a superpower and a small family shattered by big dreams of liberation and love, and the mythic alignment of sex and death." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"Montero...has never written better than in this increasingly suspenseful tale of divided loyalties and lingering resentment and sorrow. She's one of Latin America's finest writers, and this is her best novel yet." Kirkus Reviews
"While the novel develops along the trajectory of the uprising, it is the emotional complexity of the characters that drives the plot." charlotte Observer
From the author of The Last Night I Spent With You comes "a captivating tale of love, politics, and death" (The Charlotte Observer)
For fifty years, Andrés Yasin has carried a grudge against J. T. Bunker. Now eighty-three-years-old and dying, Bunker wants to tell his side of the story, the story of his affair with Estela, Andrés's mother. As a child Andrés knew Bunker as the "Captain of the Sleepers"--so called because he transported back to Vieques those who had died on the mainland but wished to be buried at home. But what really happened between Bunker and Estela, and between Estela and her one true love, a leader of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Movement? What did Andrés witness, and what were the real circumstances of his mother's mysterious death?
Beautifully translated by Edith Grossman, Captain of the Sleepers is a startling tale of remembrance and reality, and Mayra Montero's finest book yet.
About the Author
Mayra Montero is the author of a collection of short stories and seven novels, most of which are available in English. She was born in Cuba and lives in Puerto Rico.
Edith Grossman is the translator of many books by Latin American and Spanish writers. She lives in New York City.
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