Going Under

Virgil Suarez, Author Arte Publico Press $18.95 (156p) ISBN 978-1-55885-159-7
Suarez, the author of three critically acclaimed novels, most notably Latin Jazz, has dedicated his work to the theme of the exiled Cuban-American family in search of the American dream. Unfortunately, this novel captures none of the human drama and Cuban culture so richly presented in his earlier works. Xavier Cuevas, the overworked main character, is a YUCA--young upwardly mobile Cuban American--living in Miami. But the comforts of a luxury car, a cellular phone and a modern home can't compensate for his parent's divorce, his own failing marriage and his declining health. His situation is further complicated by the fact that he can't identify with either American or Cuban culture. He's embarrassed by his family's and friends' heavy accents, yet he condemns the cold, Anglo lifestyle of his wife's family. Cuevas is stuck between cultures, between jobs, between life as it is and life as it ought to be. In Suarez's clumsy symbolism, he's also stuck way too often in traffic jams. Where Suarez's previous work displayed a knack for evoking environment, music, food and emotion, Going Under suffers from generic cross-cultural misunderstandings, one-dimensional characters and a sloppy narrative. All of which is too bad--and leaves readers still waiting for Suarez to launch the exploration into the cultural crises of middle-class Latinos of which he is surely capable. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
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