Review: Chantel Acevedo’s ‘The Distant Marvels’

April 10, 2015 11:43 AM

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Review: Chantel Acevedo’s ‘The Distant Marvels’

In Chantel Acevedo’s new novel The Distant Marvels, an elderly Cuban widow named María Sirena defies the impending threat of a hurricane with a stubborn determination to stay in her own home. Once she is forced to evacuate, the narrator distracts her fellow refugees like Scheherazade, with astonishing, tragic tales from her own life. “I plumb my memories from the first stories I ever heard, the ones my mother told me of her own youth and mine,” María Sirena confides.

Acevedo, author of novels A Falling Star and Love and Ghost Letters, shifts the narrative from 1963 Castro-run Cuba to the Cuban war for independence from Spain. With baroque detail, intense pacing and a melodramatic plot, Acevedo depicts pivotal moments in Cuba’s history through the eyes of a humbl...

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