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Saturday, 7 February 2015

Que locura! Leonardo Padura launches his latest novel in Cuba

Havana, Cuba, 7 February 2015

By a strange quirk of fate (such serendipity is actually not so uncommon in Cuba), I happened to be free today and it happened to be the day (suddenly decided as things always are here) that the Union of Artists and Writers (UNEAC for short) chose to launch ‘my author’s’ latest novel Herejes (Heretics) here for the first time. I call him 'my author' because I have the vicarious claim to fame of having been the man who 'discovered' Leonardo Padura in the English speaking academic establishment.

Completed in 2013 this book has already won a prize for historical novels in Spain and has gone to two editions there. But today Cuban. readers will be able to relish the revival of their favourite fictional detective, Mario Conde, for the first time since the late 1990s.

UNEAC sold 1,000 copies this morning in about an hour and there are another 3,000 to be sold in the island over the next few weeks. The sale today was only in Cuban national pesos at a price anyone can afford… just 30 pesos MN a copy - or about US$1.20.

A complex and long novel that spans four centuries, Herejes contains numerous narrative points of view and a variety of protagonists. Its main thesis boils down to a discussion of the title – heresy and what it can mean at different times, in different contexts and cultures. This is a theme the author has discussed in his novels throughout his career. Here again, he breaks ground in the Cuban context by incoporating a copiously researched historical novel regaridng the treatment of Jews in Europe with a more prosaic contemporary detectuve story set in Havana. The English language edition is to be published soon in the UK by Bitter Lemon Press

You can read my review of this novel (in Spanish) here: 

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