cover image La Novela de Mi Vida: The Story of My Life

La Novela de Mi Vida: The Story of My Life

Leonardo Padura. TusQuets, $23.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-84-8310-199-5

A Cuban literary critic, scriptwriter, and journalist, Padura is known for his award-winning series of detective novels, Las cuatro estaciones (The Four Seasons). In the latest of his mystery novels he dwells on the famous Cuban patriot and poet Jos Maria Heredia (1803-39) and on Fernando Terry, a fictional Cuban professor exiled in Spain who returns to Cuba prompted by the recent discovery of proof that Heredia had produced an autobiographical novel. Padura follows three plot lines: Heredia's short, convoluted life, which forced him into unwanted exile in the United States and Mexico; his son's efforts to hide the novel and protect his father's reputation; and Terry's search for political asylum. Compared with Heredia's, though, Terry's reasons for seeking political asylum seem bland and devoid of historical analysis. Nevertheless, Padura's original approach to the poet's biography and his revisionist reading of the role slavery played during Cuba's struggle for political freedom will appeal to Latin Americanists. The novel also brings color to accounts of Cuba's premier thinkers and political leaders, such as Domingo del Monte and Jos Antonio Saco, who, like Terry, found themselves involved in a convoluted political scene. Latino readers will also find Padura's insightful analysis of Heredia's tribulations in exile interesting. Recommended for bookstores and libraries with a Cuban-American collection. Rafael Ocasio, Agnes Scott Coll., Decatur, GA