Synopses & Reviews
In a voice haunting and filled with longing, Before the Rain tells the story of love unexpected, its fragile bounds and subtle perils. As a newspaper editor in the ’80s, Luisita Torregrosa lived her career. Enter Elizabeth, a striking, reserved, and elusive writer with whom Torregrosa falls deeply in love. Their story—irresistible romance, overlapping ambitions, and fragile union—unfolds as the narrative shifts to the Philippines and the fall of Ferdinand Marcos. There, on that beautiful, troubled island, the couple creates a world of their own, while covering political chaos and bloody upheavals. What was effortless abroad becomes less idyllic when they return to the United States, and their ending becomes as surprising and revealing as their beginning. Torregrosa captures the way love transforms those who experience it for an unforgettable, but often too brief, time. This book is distinguished not only by its strong, unique, and conflicted heroines, but also by Torregrosa’s lyrical portrait of the Philippines and the even more exotic heart of intimacy.
"[P]oignant and haunting...his standard of liberation was absolute, his innocence made him vulnerable to unending hurt, and the freedom he sought exists nowhere." New York Times Books of the Century
"[This] is an extraordinary book, extraordinary in its restraint and its dignity, particularly in view of the tribulations that seemed always to dog [Arenas]....The language of the memoir is stark, the sentences short and staccato, with an urgency of forward movement. He is recalling his life, ticking it off in sharp, remembered moments, against the clock, with death waiting at his elbow....Before Night Falls might well have been a long cry of anger, a diatribe, but it is marked much more by its fierce determination to describe his experience honestly and incontrovertibly than by anger or self-pity.... There is a noble and imperturbable dignity about Before Night Falls; it is a book above all about being free." Alastair Reid, The New York Review of Books
"Dolores Koch's translation is a great achievement. She is not only accurate and faithful to the original but she even captures Arenas' flashes of lyricism and melancholy....Reading Arenas is like witnessing a bare consciousness in the process of assimilating the most universal, but powerful, human experiences and turning them into literature. Because of this, [reading] Before Night Falls is crucial to understanding his works. But, more important, it is a record of human cruelty and the toils of one individual to survive them. Anyone who feels the temptation to be lenient in judging Castro's Government should first read this passionate and beautifully written book." Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria, The New York Times Book Review
"[A] fascinating and frightening tale of growing up extremely poor in rural Cuba, of varied personal and political relationships, of rebelliousness, homosexuality, suppression, and persecution. In the picaresque tradition, the narrative is earthy and at times raw; the frequent sexual escapades are presumably true accounts. The description of life in Havana's El Morro prison makes the skin crawl. As an author who was not only anti-regime but also gay, Arenas was compelled to smuggle his work abroad for publication. More than a personal story, this memoir is an insightful analysis of the idiosyncrasies of an authoritarian regime." Charles E. Perry, Library Journal
"In this powerful memoir of passions both personal and political, Cuban author Arenas (Hallucinations) describes his voyage from peasant poverty to his oppression as a dissident writer and homosexual." Publishers Weekly
"[A]n extraordinarily powerful autobiography that's both a poignant personal memoir and a damning political indictment of the Castro regime and its supporters...a distinguished addition to the literature of dissent and exile." Kirkus Reviews
“Before the Rain takes us to the exotic and pillaged places of the earth, through rain-swept streets and wine-soaked nights and into the hearts of two passionate, revolutionary women who dared to love and lose; and lived to dare again. A wild, brave, truthful story.”
--Carole DeSanti, author of The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R
“What is more exotic and unknowable than love? … Spare, precise and soulful, Before the Rain is an epic travelogue of the heart. It has the urgency of a front page news story, but then, no matter what is happening in the world, love is always revolutionary when it happens to you.”
-Bob Morris, author of Assisted Loving
"A friendship between two journalists covering the Philippines Revolution of 1986 deepens into a passionate, far-flung love affair in this serenely capable work...as Torregrosa fashions in her oblique and beautiful fashion, the two women could never really acknowledge their love publicly, underscoring a sad truth to this memorable work."
This shocking personal and political memoir from one of the most visionary writers to emerge from Castro's Cuba recounts Arenas' stunning odyssey from his poverty-stricken childhood through his suppression as a writer and imprisonment as a homosexual to his flight to America and subsequent life and death in New York. A New York Times Best Book of 1993.
The shocking memoir by visionary Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas "is a book above all about being free," said The New York Review of Books — sexually, politically, artistically. Arenas recounts a stunning odyssey from his poverty-stricken childhood in rural Cuba and his adolescence as a rebel fighting for Castro, through his suppression as a writer, imprisonment as a homosexual, his flight from Cuba via the Mariel boat lift, and his subsequent life and the events leading to his death in New York. In what The Miami Herald calls his "deathbed ode to eroticism," Arenas breaks through the code of secrecy and silence that protects the privileged in a state where homosexuality is a political crime. Recorded in simple, straightforward prose, this is the true story of the Kafkaesque life and world re-created in the author's acclaimed novels.
A seductive memoir of a life-changing affair during a time of revolution as it unfolds over a decade and across three continents, surprising both lovers with the power and urgency of love.
About the Author
Luisita López Torregrosa is the author of The Noise of Infinite Longing and was an editor at the New York Times. As a special correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle she reported firsthand on the coup attempts against President Corazon Aquino, the communist insurgency in the Philippines, and the protests in South Korea that led to the fall of authoritarian rule. Her articles also have appeared in Vanity Fair, New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, and Vogue.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The End
The Temple of the Spirits
The Morning Fog
The Night, My Grandmother
The Rub Pub
Theatrics and the Chicken Farm
Good-bye to the Chicken Farm
The Cuban Book Institute
The Four Categories of Gays
Jorge and Margarita
Santa Marcia [Saint Queer]
The Abreu Brothers
The Sugar Mill
The Padilla "Case"
A Trip to Holguíin
Again at El Morro
An "Open" Jail
Out on the Street
The Monserrate Hotel
Good-Bye to Virgilio