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Havana Red [Paperback]

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Item Number 271073  
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Item description for Havana Red by Leonardo Padura, Peter R. Bush & Peter R. Bush...

The first of the Havan quartet featuring Lieutenant Mario Conde, a tropical Marlowe. A body is found in a Havana park. A young transvestite dressed in a beautiful red evening dress, strangled. The victim had fled his family, finding refuge with Marques, a forgotten man in his own country, an author and theatre director once condemned by his government for being a 'heretical homosexual', living alone surrounded only by books, his house in ruins. In the baking heat of the Havana summer Conde moves through a Cuban reality where nothing is what it seems, a dark, fascinating world of men and women born in the Revolution who live without dreaming of exile and seek their identity in the midst of disaster.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   233
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5" Height: 7.75"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2005
Publisher   Bitter Lemon Press
ISBN  1904738095  
ISBN13  9781904738091  

Availability  21 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 26, 2016 09:25.
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More About Leonardo Padura, Peter R. Bush & Peter R. Bush

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Leonardo Padura was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1955. A novelist, journalist, and critic, he is the author of several novels, two volumes of short stories, and several nonfiction collections. His novels featuring the detective Mario Conde have been translated into many languages and have won literary prizes around the world. The Man Who Loved Dogs was a finalist for the Book of the Year Award in Spain. Padura lives in Havana.

Anna Kushner was born in Philadelphia and first traveled to Cuba in 1999. She has translated the novels of Guillermo Rosales, Norberto Fuentes, and Goncalo M. Tavares.


Leonardo Padura was born in 1955.

Leonardo Padura has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Coleccion Andanzas

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > Formats
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
3Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > General
4Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Havana Red?

That's How It Is   May 21, 2007
On the 243 pages of the book he uses the big F word 75 times - not a shock but surprising. Best of all his Catholicism shines thru as a part of his every fiber. Worth the read.
"Lost in Translation?"  Jan 30, 2007
While it's sometimes hard to read a book that's been translated and still get the nuances, I found this book less than what it was touted to be--Conde is certainly no "tropical Marlowe." Do we place some of the blame on the translator? Or maybe on the language--as Latin languages are often hard to translate without losing, if not the essence, the subtleties and fine distinctions? Or, is the author simply not what I hoped and expected? Does every other sentence begin with the "F" word in Cuba or just in this novel?

It was labeled "scorching" but the only really scorching part to me was the heat of a Cuban summer, not the novel. Maybe I'm disappointed because this was so unlike an American or English "whodunit" that it derailed me a bit. I think this isn't the real reason though, as I've read other mysteries in other languages that have been translated and I've been riveted by the writing or at least the translation. No, I'm going to have to say, this book was somewhat of a let down to me. I did force myself to finish it and I did enjoy the interplay between the various characters/comrades that Conde constantly interacts with, but there was not enough of a mystery and there was too much extraneous verbiage that did not contribute to the overall theme. Padura does have a good eye and ear for detail about Havana, heat, sensuality, sex, and friendship, but for pure "thriller", it goes lacking. And, some of the sexual detail was unnecessarily explicit. There was more detail in this regard than about the body of the murdered. And, where was the use of forensics, certainly they were using more than just bloodtype when this book was written?

Padura does a good job drawing most of his characters in a manner that we come to care about them, and he can be sardonic at the right times, but I failed to follow how he truly solved the mystery of the strangulation of a one-time transvestite; his deductive reasoning did not measure up to a good criminal investigative pursuit. The book seemed to be rife with other issues and the crime incidental to the novel as a whole. I kept wondering why it was classified as a mystery? Also, I was left with a question? Who really was the "Other Boy?" He seemed so central throughout the story but we're never really given his identity and even though I think I have good powers of deductive and reductive reasoning, I could not conclusively decide who he was and it seemed to be an important detail? Why leave it to the minds of the reader if it was so universal to the storyline? It was frustrating and with no real purpose? Was it in someway related to Fatman Contrersas? And, why did Fatman play a role that was never fully delineated yet dropped on us as though it was of grave importance--as was the entire internal investigation--with no clearly detailed purpose other than to bring back Conde from a desk job? Loose ends.....

What I did find of great interest was the way in which homosexuals were treated in Cuba in "days gone by" and was a piece of history that I did not know. I still do not know if Alberto Marquess' writing will go down in infamy (symbolically, of course) but I did like the idea that even though writers were repressed in Cuba, the repression could not stop them from thinking and writing, only publishing their works--for a time. And, after understanding the juxtaposition of the Paris storyline, I did enjoy the use of the parallel stories as a way to extricate the past lives of some of the major characters and thereby understand their role in the overall "mystery."

So, while I learned some important things about Cuba and about Spanish writers of whom I had never heard, during a time when much was being repressed by the totalitarian government and its renowned dictator, I still feel dissatisfied with the novel. But, then, we all wear masks, as Batman said, so maybe, Padura's mask will be lifted as he begins to be translated and I may grow to enjoy his work. While only giving this 3 stars, which I consider a gift, I will read him again to see if there is an improved relationship between his writing and my liking.
Padura's "Metaphor for life in Cuba" as well as a beautifully written murder mystery!  Aug 23, 2006
"Havana Red" is so much more than a murder mystery - although it is an excellent example of the genre. Cuban author Leonardo Padura paints a realistic portrait of his lady love, the city of Havana, in this wonderful novel. He doesn't skimp on thrills and chills either!

What makes "Havana Red" so fascinating is that this ode is not to the glamorous vacation oasis of casinos, clubs, and luxury hotels that once brought the city fame. This is a paean, of sorts, to present day La Habana, with its crumbling post revolution colonial buildings which require more than a paint job to restore them to former glory; the winding streets filled with a most unique charm, although in need of repair; traffic jams caused by Chevrolets and Oldsmobiles from a 1958 time warp, Soviet-made Volgas and Ladas alongside newer Japanese Hyundais and Nissans with their cacophony of honking horns that work, amazingly, even with a lack of spare parts; the glorious Malecón, that famous avenue which runs along the seawall, where one can view the ever present Castillo del Morro in the distance. This is the tropical capital of Fidel's Cuba, a lusty city full of character and color, a strange mix of Europe, America, and Africa, a stalwart lady, though faded, who resonates with the syncopated beat of the rumba. Talk of politics is ever present here, despite what outsiders think. Cubans are difficult to repress. Complaints about life and lack of liberty are also prevalent, as well as a strange cynical acceptance about the way things are. This is a city that would still inspire Hemingway and Graham Green...just as it does Leonardo Padura.

Into this extraordinary environment steps Lieutenant Mario Conde, a Havana police detective who has been taken off suspended duty, (temporarily), to investigate the lurid murder of a transvestite who turns out to be the son of a prominent Cuban government official. In the process of solving the case, Sr. Padura exposes various societal subcultures, including that of the much persecuted and marginalized homosexual community. Conde, an astute man with a well developed sense of irony, seeks assistance from talented Alberto Marqués, a retired writer and theatrical director who was blacklisted during his artistic prime. The "Marquess," ("as his coteries entitled him"), his interaction with the detective and his reminiscences of Paris in his youth, are marvelously portrayed. Really strong writing here, quite poetic at times.

Leonardo Padura won Spain's Dashiell Hammett Prize for "Havana Red." He is regarded in Cuba as a national treasure...and rightly so. In an interview Padura stated: "I would prefer it if the novel is not read solely as the story of a dead transvestite and an old homosexual who helps a policeman uncover the truth, but as a metaphor for life in Cuba, a life in which the masks worn by people hide not only sexual differences but religious and social ideologies, considered sometimes inappropriate by the official orthodoxy."
A warning  May 1, 2006
'Havana Red' is NOT "The first of the Havana quartet featuring Inspector Mario Conde... ", nor is it "... a fantastic first tale." A fantastic tale, no problem, but not the first. It is the first one translated into English, but it's actually the third volume of the quartet (Spanish title 'Mascaras'), and the forthcoming 'Havana Black' (*'Paisaje de otono') was the final volume, not the second. It's a pity the English translations aren't being published in the original order, as the reader is going to miss out on some of the pleasure of following developments in Mario Conde's personal and professional lives - especially those involving Tamara - in their correct sequence.

The original publication dates are: Pasado perfecto, 1991; Vientos de cuaresma, 1994; Mascaras, 1997; Paisaje de otono, 1998.

By the way, I haven't actually read this translation, but I've read all four volumes of the 'Havana quartet' in Spanish, and I'd give each of them five stars.

*Should have the squiggly thing over the 'n', but it looks like this site can't handle it.
Not my cup of tea  Apr 3, 2006
I am certain that for readers with a more mature taste this is a fascinating book. Unfortunately if you're looking for a police procedural, not too complicated and entertaining, then this isn't for you.

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