- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: BITTER LEMON PRESS (9 Aug. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1904738303
- ISBN-13: 978-1904738305
- Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.2 x 17.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 858,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
HAVANA RED Paperback – 9 Aug 2007
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"A scorching crime novel from a star of Cuban fiction...syncopated with brilliant riffs on sex, society, religion, even food." Independent"Prize-winning crime noir by Cuba's celebrated writer." Daily Mail"Padura's powerful writing creates an atmospheric picture of a turbulent city, illuminated by Conde's sardonic commentary." Sunday Telegraph"Conde is thrown into a tangled web of mysticism, politics and subversive activity. Captured perfectly in Padura's seamy, heat-soaked pages." Guardian
About the Author
Leonardo Padura was born in 1955 in Havana and lives in Cuba. He has published a number of short story collections and literary essays but international fame came with the Havana Quartet, all featuring Inspector Mario Conde.Like many others of his generation, Padura had faced the question of leaving, particularly in the late 80s and early 90s, when living conditions deteriorated sharply as Russian aid evaporated. He chose to stay. And to write beautiful ironic novels in which Soviet style socialism is condemned by implication through scenes of Havana life where even the police is savagely policed.The crime novels feed on the noises and smells of Havana, on the ability of its inhabitants to keep joking, to make love and music, to drink rum, and to survive through petty crime such as running clandestine bars and restaurants.
Top Customer Reviews
What makes "Havana Red" so fascinating is that this ode is not to the glamorous vacation oasis of casinos, clubs, and luxury hotels that once brought the city fame. This is a paean, of sorts, to present day La Habana, with its crumbling post revolution colonial buildings which require more than a paint job to restore them to former glory; the winding streets filled with a most unique charm, although in need of repair; traffic jams caused by Chevrolets and Oldsmobiles from a 1958 time warp, Soviet-made Volgas and Ladas alongside newer Japanese Hyundais and Nissans with their cacophony of honking horns that work, amazingly, even with a lack of spare parts; the glorious Malecón, that famous avenue which runs along the seawall, where one can view the ever present Castillo del Morro in the distance. This is the tropical capital of Fidel's Cuba, a lusty city full of character and color, a strange mix of Europe, America, and Africa, a stalwart lady, though faded, who resonates with the syncopated beat of the rumba. Talk of politics is ever present here, despite what outsiders think. Cubans are difficult to repress. Complaints about life and lack of liberty are also prevalent, as well as a strange cynical acceptance about the way things are. This is a city that would still inspire Hemingway and Graham Green...just as it does Leonardo Padura.Read more ›
The problem with this book is that it is so uneven. There is a strong storyline, and whenever the author focuses on the main plot, the book is a real page-turner. Too often, however, there are lengthy asides on various topics like the marginalisation of artists and writers, Cuba's troubled past, and biblical analysis, not to mention Conde's repeated philosophising. Translator Peter Bush has on the whole done a good job, especially with the dialogue sections, but you sense that he struggled at times with the dense prose of the tirades, which may make them sound worse than they are. Defenders of Sr. Padura may argue that, given the turmoil in Cuba of recent decades, his characters have the right to rant, that a Cuban detective novel is unlikely to resemble other detective novels, and that for Padura it's obviously important to document social history, not just write a detective novel. All of this may be true, but it didn't stop me finding some of the rants tedious and out of place in a book of this genre, where I want to be carried along by the action.
Despite its shortcomings, there is a lot to like in this book. There are humorous moments, a couple of erotic episodes, and several beautifully-drawn characters.Read more ›
Yes this is a crime novel but it attempts to be so much more. The city itself is really quite a driving force. The way Padura describes the city, the heat, the smells and the colours of the city really occupies alot of the book while the investigation takes a back seat. This book isn't bad, it's quite slow going and hard to get into but at times rather beautiful. However take warning that is most definately not first and foremost a crime novel.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Got halfway through a very gritty and explicit story and felt it had nothing left to give so it's being recycled. Read morePublished 7 months ago by M Browning
I came to Padura having heard a radio adaptation on the BBC. I enjoyed the Latin American style of his writing which makes this stand out from the standard American crime... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Pat Owen
goods as described and delivered promptly. Strange book - takes a bit of getting used to, but an OK read - I wouldn't exactly recommend it to get a flavour of Cuba. Read morePublished 22 months ago by glend5