Singing from the Well

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Penguin Books, 1988 - Fiction - 206 pages
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A POWERFUL NOVEL OF GROWING UP IN A WORLD WHERE NIGHTMARE HAS BECOME REALITY, AND FANTASY PROVIDES THE ONLY ESCAPE

His mother talks piously of the heaven that awaits the good, and disciplines him with an ox prod. His grandmother burns his treasured crosses for kindling. His cousins meet to plot their grandfather's death. Yet in the hills surrounding his home, another reality exists, a place where his mother wears flowers in her hair, and his cousin Celestino, a poet who inscribes verse on the trunks of trees, understands his visions.

The first novel in Reinaldo Arenas's "secret history of Cuba", a quintet he called the Pentagonia, Singing from the Well is by turns explosively crude and breathtakingly lyrical. In the end, it is a stunning depiction of childhood besieged by horro -- and a moving defense of liberty and the imagination in a world of barbarity, persecution, and ignorance.

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About the author (1988)

Reinaldo Arenas was born in Cuba in 1943. In 1980, he was one of 120,000 Cubans who arrived in the United States on the Mariel boatlift. Arenas settled in New York where he lived until his death from AIDS ten years later.

Thomas Colchie is an acclaimed translator, editor, and literary agent for international authors. He is the editor of A Hammock Beneath the Mangoes. He has written for the Village Voice and The Washington Post. His translations include Manuel Puig's Kiss of the Spider Woman and (with Elizabeth Bishop, Gregory Rabassa, and Mark Strand) Carlos Drummond de Andrade's Travelling in the Family.


Andrew Hurley is a translator of numerous works of literature, criticism, history, and memoir. He is professor emeritus at the University of Puerto Rico.

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