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Cubop City Blues Hardcover – June 5, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"[Medina's] most touching novel to date . . . A rich and stunning novel with an incredibly intricate scaffolding. . . . Yet another triumph."—Los Angeles Review of Books

“[A] haunting love letter to New York . . . Vivifies the cityscape over many decades with tales of love, death, and exile . . . Rich and accomplished . . . Medina has a keen eye for the ebb and flow of desire. . . . There is beauty, suffused with a muted melancholy, in Medina’s attempt to capture the rhythms of life.”—Publishers Weekly

"An enjoyable read that reminds us the world is as expansive as our imagination. Readers who enjoy the work of Omar Torres and Cristina Garcia will want to add Medina to their reading list."—Library Journal

"Storytelling that playfully illuminated the essence of storytelling."—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Pablo Medina was born in Havana, Cuba, and came to New York City at the age of twelve. He is the author of eleven books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translation. His sixth collection of poetry, Highway of Blazing Cars, is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press. A recipient of numerous awards for his work, Pablo Medina resides in Boston and teaches writing, literature, and translation at Emerson College.

Visit his website at


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Edition edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119841
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,869,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pablo Medina is the author of 13 books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translation. Until the age of 12, he lived in Havana, Cuba, then moved with his family to New York City, where his culture shock was softened by snow and by countless visits to the New York Public Library. His work has appeared in major periodicals in the United States and abroad. Currently, he lives in Boston, MA, and teaches at Emerson College.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pablo Medina is as much a master as the Afro-Cuban jazz masters his magnificent Cubop City Blues pays homage to. His finely tuned novel is his instrument; he plays it like a virtuoso with his writing. And we hear it with our reading. Every word is a musical note that soars from each page, carrying our hearts and our imaginations with them to that place where only such soulful music can take us.

At the pulsating heart of this passionately lyrical composition of many voices is the Storyteller, the blind son of Cuban exiles brought to New York City as a very young boy. Because of his near-total blindness since birth he has lived an isolated, sheltered life with his immigrant parents and their European housekeeper, Cornelia, who taught him how to play Chess and become a teller of stories.

It is he who in his blindness has imagined a sensual and seductive but often dangerous world of Cubop City...he who has manifested his compassion for his dying parents into characters who populate stories of his own creation. "And then I understood what would happen if I told them a story, or part of a story, every day. It wasn't a cure for their maladies but a way of existing, going from story to story..."

The Storyteller with no practical experience in the outside world relies heavily upon a lively imagination deeply rooted in the only three books he has ever read but has read prolifically - the 1911 ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA, THE KING JAMES BIBLE, and THE ARABIAN NIGHTS - to produce stories he can narrate to the parents he alone must care for as they lie side by side dying from cancer.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Miles D. Moore on June 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pablo Medina's "Cubop City Blues" is a series of blazing jazz solos by a virtuoso whose instrument happens to be the pen. Medina's novel is actually a loosely connected series of short stories, in the style of "Trainspotting," "Three Junes," and "Let the Great World Spin," and it deserves to be ranked with those excellent books.

The theme of "Cubop City Blues" is nothing less than the panorama of the Cuban immigrant experience in America, as filtered through the character of The Storyteller--a 25-year-old man, nearly blind, caring for his dysfunctional parents who are both dying of cancer. Informed by the books available to him--The Bible, The Arabian Nights, the 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica--The Storyteller entertains his parents and himself with tales of the adventures of various residents of Cubop City, both real and invented. These include Juan Antonio, a snobbish literature professor who finds himself falling in love with a younger male colleague he despises; Bennie Rojas, a Havana blackjack dealer who escapes to Las Vegas and loses a piece of his soul in the process; Johnny Luna, who is determined that his seventh attempt to escape Cuba for Miami will be the charm; Adalberto Fuentes, a cocky trumpet player blindsided by love; and especially Angel, a Cuban everyman whose trials include multiple lost loves and a stranger who stabs him nearly to death in the street, for no discernible reason (great shades of Samuel Beckett).

While these and other characters are memorable, it is Medina's writing that is unforgettable. With language of breathtaking precision, Medina marinates you in the colors, scents and sounds of his Cubop City.
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By Mark Statman on May 30, 2015
Format: Audible Audio Edition
Pablo Medina is a wonderful poet, novelist, and translator. Cubop City Blues provides a wild, wonderful, breathtaking ride.
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