Old Rosa: A Novel in Two Stories

Reinaldo Arenas, Author, Ann T. Slater, Translator, Andrew Hurley, Translator Grove/Atlantic $16.95 (106p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1092-3
It's fascinating to observe the talented author's development in these two novellas, written five years apart. Arenas's emotionally charged, lyrical prose becomes firmer, more focused as he abandons magical realism and delves more intimately into his own experiences. The heroine of the allegorical ``Old Rosa'' is a peasant who amasses a large property through hard work and self-sacrifice only to see her efforts destroyed when her farm is collectivized under Castro. With her oldest son ready to join the revolution, her daughter marrying a Negro and her youngest son Arturo a homosexual, Rosa literally goes mad; the novella begins with her setting fire to her house and herself. Arturo's life is taken up in ``The Brightest Star,'' which parallels some of what is known of the author's own experiences in the notorious Cuban workcamps. Arturo's personality changes when he is imprisoned for his homosexuality. At first he holds himself aloof, then becomes the most flamboyant of his fellow prisoners and finally retreats into a beautiful fantasyland. Because Arenas holds back nothing, giving free vent to his emotions, this densely charged tale crescendoes to a shattering finale. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
Paperback - 106 pages - 978-0-8021-3406-6
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