Nuestra Señora de la Noche

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Espasa, 2006 - Fiction - 359 pages
Narrates, through decidedly poetic yet accessible prose, the rise to power of Isabel la Negra, owner in 1930s Puerto Rico of the Caribbean's most famous bordello. In her relationship with the white, affluent Arsenio, Isabel, who is black, serves as a metaphor for ongoing racial tensions on the island. The narrative shuffles back and forth among heterogeneous spaces that have never before appeared in a Puerto Rican novel (the Jewish Passover, for example), building protagonists that are powerfully contradictory and almost as paradoxical as their own desires. Isabel is portrayed as fiery, smart, religious, and keenly aware of her power. Arsenio is awkward and critical of his class status but nonetheless compliant. Each narrator constructs the rest of the world around them as a radiography of Puerto Rican society during the first half of the 20th century, one where the upper class still holds on to the patriarchal Christian values that paradoxically guarantee its own downfall.

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User Review  - pinetastic -

Mayra Santos-Febres is a master storyteller. The setting is Puerto Rico during WWII, and follows the rise of a real life madam, Isabel la Negra. But the story is not told in linear order. And ... Read full review


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About the author (2006)

Mayra Santos-Febres has won many prizes for her stories and was recently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and long-listed for the prestigious IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. She lives in Puerto Rico.

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