In 1949, two young Cuban musicians, brothers Cesar and Nestor, leave Havana for New York. By day they work hard, by night they are the Mambo Kings: packing out clubs, dance halls and theatres with their sensuous, pulsing Latin music. This is the captivating story of charming, vivacious womanizer Cesar and quiet, romantic Nestor - still nursing an ...Read MoreIn 1949, two young Cuban musicians, brothers Cesar and Nestor, leave Havana for New York. By day they work hard, by night they are the Mambo Kings: packing out clubs, dance halls and theatres with their sensuous, pulsing Latin music. This is the captivating story of charming, vivacious womanizer Cesar and quiet, romantic Nestor - still nursing an unrequited love for 'beautiful Maria of my soul' - and their changing fortunes as they try to make it big in America.Read Less
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It was harder going than I thought and sadder than I expected but it evokes times and places.
I read this book as I travelled around Cuba and the many references to places and attitudes made it a perfect time to read this book.
Publishers Weekly, 1990-07-06 The Mambo Kings are two brothers, Cesar and Nestor Castillo, Cuban-born musicians who immigrate to New York City in 1949. They form a band and enjoy modest success, their popularity peaking in 1956 with a guest appearance on the I Love Lucy show. PW lauded this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel: ``Hijuelos's pure storytelling skills commission every incident with a life and breath of its own.'' (Aug.)
Publishers Weekly, 1989-06-02 The Mambo Kings are two brothers, Cesar and Nestor Castillo, Cuban-born musicians who emigrate to New York City in 1949. They form a band and enjoy modest success, playing dance halls, nightclubs and quince parties in New York's Latin neighborhoods. Their popularity peaks in 1956 with a guest appearance on the I Love Lucy show, playing Ricky Ricardo's Cuban cousins and performing their only hit song in a bittersweet event that both frames the novel and serves as its emblematic heart. Hijuelos's first novel, Our House in the Last World , was justly praised for its tender vignettes of emigre Cuban life; here, he tells of the triumphs and tragedies that befall two men blessed with gigantic appetites and profoundly melancholic hearts--Cesar, the elder, and the bandleader, committed to the pursuit of life's pleasures, and Nestor, he of the ``dark, soulful countenance,'' forever plunging through a dark, Latin gloom. In a performance that deepens the canon of American ethnic literature, Hijuelos evokes, by day, a New York of crowded Harlem apartments made cheery by Cuban hospitality, and by night, a raucous club scene of stiletto heels and waxy pompadours--all set against a backdrop of a square, 1950s America that thinks worldliness means knowing the cha-cha. With an unerring ear for period idioms (``Hello you big lug'') and a comic generosity that renders even Cesar's sexual bravado forgivable if not quite believable, Hijuelos has depicted a world as enchanting (yet much closer to home) as that in Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera . The lyricism of Hijuelos's language is wonderfully restrained, conveying with equal facility ribald comedy and heartfelt pathos. Despite a questionable choice of narrative conceit (Cesar recollects the novel from a seedy ``Hotel Splendour'' in 1980), Hijuelos's pure storytelling skills commission every incident with a life and breath of its own. (Aug.)
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