The Strange Case of Rachel K

Rachel Kushner. New Directions, $19.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-8112-2421-5
Kushner (The Flamethrowers) imagines Cuban history in this small collection of strong prose. In “The Great Exception," a Portuguese admiral reminiscent of Christopher Columbus in 1492 discovers Cuba. Hundreds of years later, a woman named Aloha moves from Colorado to Havana where she discovers a new life with Ferdinand K, a Frenchman who sells fake war footage of naval battles between American and Spanish fleets. In “Debouchment," a conversation among patrons at a nightclub, and an illegal radio broadcast by a man known as “the faith healer" delve into violent political conflicts that shaped Cuba in the 20th century. And, in the title story, Christian de la Mazière, the fictionalized French Nazi from Kushner's novel, Telex from Cuba, shares an intimate talk with cabaret dancer Rachel K about her origins and her relationships with both President Carlos Prío Socarrás and the dictator Fulgencio Batista. These narratives are bridged by characters, place, and resurfacing imagery. Kushner's writing is fluid and clear and possesses a rhythm as determined as an ocean current. She navigates the limits of language, seeking new or uncommon words like “batiking" and “flumed" to fit the descriptions of the world she maps. In this slim book, readers will encounter three stories of terrific depth. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/09/2015
Release date: 02/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 80 pages - 978-0-8112-2553-3
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-0-8112-2422-2
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