cover image Reinbou


Pedro Cabiya, trans. from the Spanish by Jessica Powell. Astra House, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-1-66260-251-1

The dense and exciting latest from Cabiya (Wicked Weeds) delves into the Dominican Republic’s 1965 civil war and its aftermath. The narrative toggles between 1965, when U.S. Marine commander Julius Horton and local politician Molina torture and entrap their revolutionary adversaries Puro and Oviedo, and 1976, when 10-year-old Angel Maceta, who lives in a shack with his mother Imna, twin aunts, and baby brother, discovers the truth about the death of his father, a hero of the opposition. A suitcase full of gold stolen by the rebels provides the central conflict in 1965, when a Marine interrogates Oviedo in hopes of finding its whereabouts. In 1976, Angel discovers magical items in the trash, such as a black vinyl disk that morphs into a record collection and a steel ring that turns into a basketball hoop. For the characters, each day is a struggle against abuses committed by the country’s dictatorship, such as maiming, rape, and torture, but the secret magic unearthed by Angel provides hope (thanks to the steel ring, one neighbor goes on to become a basketball star). Cabiya evokes the Dominican Republic’s heat and passion with frank and poetic prose and the excitement of a spy thriller. This is teeming with life. (Mar.)