cover image The Playwright’s House

The Playwright’s House

Dariel Suarez. Red Hen, $18.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-59709-114-5

Serguey Blanco, the 27-year-old protagonist of this worthy first novel from Suarez (after the story collection A Kind of Solitude), has everything he could want in contemporary Havana, Cuba. He’s a lawyer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is on the fast track for snagging a posting abroad. His mentor is a powerful person in government, and his father, Felipe, is a celebrated playwright and theater director. However, when Felipe is arrested for vague political crimes, Serguey realizes how fragile his perfect life has always been. His family begs him to call in favors to free Felipe, and by doing so Serguey’s life turns into a Kafkaesque nightmare. He faces formidable forces: “There would be no case anyone could make against a politically motivated accusation, not without losing their job. There would be no other entities that could intervene, no individual that could defy the government’s ubiquitous will.” His efforts to navigate an increasingly sinister landscape, untangle the complex details of his father’s life, and come to terms with his own past make for gripping reading. Fans of realistic political thrillers won’t want to miss this one. (June)