A View from the Mangrove
In this masterful collection of short stories, a celebrated Cuban writer continues his imaginative exploration of the genesis of the modern Caribbean world. Intent on recovering the interior history (la infra-historia) of this astonishingly diverse region, Antonio Benítez-Rojo ranges widely across time and geography. He also experiments with a variety of narrative techniques and prose styles, each intended to capture some unique aspect of the Caribbean's heterogeneous, polyrhythmic cultural heritage. Thus "The Broken Flute" centers on a tragic anthropological reflection; "Windward Passage" on the confessions of a guilty priest stationed in Hispaniola; "Summer Island" on events surrounding the colonization of St. Kitts; and "A View from the Mangrove" on the troubled days of a soldier during Cuba's War of Independence. The result is historical fiction of the first order, a vivid tapestry of characters and contexts. Whether describing the world through the eyes of a seventeenth-century African slave or an English slave trader, a French buccaneer or a Spanish official, an Aztec god's avatar or a Haitian grand blanc, Benítez-Rojo displays a rare gift for resurrecting the past in all its chaotic and compelling immediacy.