Dancing to "Almendra": A Novel

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Jan 23, 2007 - Fiction - 264 pages
13 Reviews
Havana, 1957. On the same day that the Mafia capo Umberto Anastasia is assassinated in a barber's chair in New York, a hippopotamus escapes from the Havana zoo and is shot and killed by its pursuers. Assigned to cover the zoo story, Joaquín Porrata, a young Cuban journalist, instead finds himself embroiled in the mysterious connections between the hippo's death and the mobster's when a secretive zookeeper whispers to him that he "knows too much." In exchange for a promise to introduce the keeper to his idol, the film star George Raft, now the host of the Capri Casino, Joaquín gets information that ensnares him in an ever-thickening plot of murder, mobsters, and, finally, love. The love story is, of course, another mystery. Told by Yolanda, a beautiful ex-circus performer now working for the famed cabaret San Souci, it interleaves through Joaquín's underworld investigations, eventually revealing a family secret deeper even than Havana's brilliantly evoked enigmas. In Dancing to "Almendra," Mayra Montero has created an ardent and thrilling tale of innocence lost, of Havana's secret world that is "the basis for the clamor of the city," and of the end of a violent era of fantastic characters and extravagant crimes. Based on the true history of a bewitching city and its denizens, Almendra is the latest "triumph" (Library Journal) from one of Latin America's most impassioned and intoxicating voices.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rmharris - LibraryThing

Very enjoyable mix of mobsters, romance, magicians and the press set in pre-Castro Cuba. Small time journalist Joaquin Porrata hopes to make it into the big leagues when he discovers a connection ... Read full review

DANCING TO "ALMENDRA"

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Organized crime and disorganized personal relations are tightly intertwined in the prolific Cuban-born Puerto Rican author's latest (The Captain of the Sleepers, 2005, etc.).It begins most ... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

Mayra Montero is the author of a collection of short stories and of eight novels, including, most recently, Captain of the Sleepers (FSG, 2005). She was born in Cuba and lives in Puerto Rico, where she writes a weekly column in El Nuevo Dia newspaper.

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