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The Island of Eternal Love Paperback – Bargain Price, June 2, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Chaviano's first English translation, historical fiction is given a strong if awkward shot of the supernatural. Cecilia, a Cuban-born Miami journalist, investigates reports of a phantom house that appears in random areas of the city. As she tries to unlock the mystery, she becomes equally entranced by Amalia, an old woman she meets at a Little Havana bar. With only an eccentric great aunt to call family in her adopted city, Cecilia returns again and again to hear Amalia's chronicle of three bloodlines from across the planet that converge in Cuba. Replete with romance, clashing cultures and bloodshed, Amalia's story also has its share of auras, fairy music and imps (including Martinico, who haunts the women in Amalia's family). A descendant of clairvoyants, Cecilia is enthralled by the old woman, but whether readers will be enthralled is another question. Characters are more quirk than flesh, the dialogue is often stilted and though the supernatural plays a large part, the elements frequently feel uncomfortably inserted (such as the cameo of a goat-hoofed Pan). A stronger grounding—either in reality or the supernatural—might have helped this find its groove. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Passionate...satisfying."
-Chicago Sun- Times

"A rich, moving, musical novel."
-Locus magazine

"[An] ambitious novel."
-Sun-Sentinel

"Rich, satisfying...this work is an absolute delight."
-Library Journal
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; Reprint edition (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594483795
  • ASIN: B002UXS0DY
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,187,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daína Chaviano (b. Havana, Cuba). In 1979 she received the David Prize for Science Fiction for Los mundos que amo. After this, she published several fantasy and science fiction books. She established the first science fiction literary workshop in Latin America. Later she worked as a screenwriter for television shows for children, youths, and adults. She was a TV and radio emcee, and acted in some independent films.

In 1991, she moved to Miami, Florida (USA), where she lives since then. Outside Cuba she has published País de dragones, a short-story collection for young adults; a poetry book, Confesiones eróticas y otros hechizos; and the series of novels «The Occult Side of Havana», consisting of El hombre, la hembra y el hambre; Casa de juegos; Gata encerrada; and La isla de los amores infinitos (The Island of Eternal Love), that has become the most widely translated Cuban novel of all time with editions in 25 languages.

Daína Chaviano has received several international recognitions, like the Anna Seghers Award (Berlin Academy of Arts, Germany, 1990); Azorín Prize for Best Novel (Spain, 1998); Goliardos International Award for Fantasy (Mexico, 2003); Guest of Honor at the 25th International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts (Fort Lauderdale, 2004); and Gold Medal for Best Book in Spanish Language (Florida Book Awards, 2006).

Recognized as the most prominent contemporary Cuban author of science fiction and fantasy, Daína Chaviano exercises equal virtuosity in the traditional (mainstream) narrative mode. She melds realistic and historical elements with aspects of science fiction, fantasy, and Gothic literature. Her themes encompass mythology, ancient history, sociology, parapsychology, eroticism, politics, and magic, all developed in a language filled with poetic, sensual imagery.

Her works have been described as "wild experiments in genre-busting. It's as if Ray Bradbury married Michael Ende and frolicked occasionally with Anaïs Nin." (Críticas Magazine, USA, Jan-Feb. 2004)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Island of Eternal Love by Daina Chaviano centers on Cecilia, a Miami journalist, who after having migrated during the 1994 Cuban exodus is experiencing bouts of homesickness and depression. At the insistence of friends, she is reluctantly dragged along for a night out and meets an old woman in the back of the club who commences to tell her life story to Cecilia. Finding more interest in the old woman's story than the club scene, Cecilia anxiously returns on a regular basis to hear the next episode in the soap opera-like saga. Therein, the history of Cuba unfolds in the old woman's rendering of an enchanting multi-generational love story.

The reader is transported back to China and follows the migration of a young, hopeful Chinese family to the island and learns of the survival, assimilation, and racial challenges that ensue. The Spanish conquerors and the enslaved Africans are represented in their historical context and the comingling of the races is inevitable and evident in the colorful landscape of Cubans today. What also emerges is the manifestation of curses, superstitions, and mythical lore evidenced in segments where a mischievous imp torments the chosen women of one family for generations and a mysterious phantom house randomly that appears throughout Little Havana, which ironically (or perhaps it is fate) becomes Cecilia's assignment at the newspaper where she is a reporter. The author eventually bridges the significance of the house, the disjointed family saga, and Cecelia's angst to wrap up the novel nicely.

This was my first time reading Chaviano and I chose to read it based on the synopsis, which hinted at a cross-cultural tale that explored the African, Chinese and Spanish ancestry of the Cuban people.
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By A Customer on June 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Born in Cuba, Cecilia left in 1994 settling in Miami's Little Havana; she has since become a reporter. Her friends persuade a hesitant Cecilia to accompany them to a club, which she finds totally boring. She is ready to leave when she meets an elderly woman in the back. Amalia begins telling a fascinated Cecilia re her family heritage.

Every night Cecilia returns to hear more about how Amalia's three racial-makeups that consolidated into hybrids in Cuba. The old woman adds plenty of romance, violence and blood along with fairies and imps assaulting the females. Especially cursing her relatives for generations is Martinico the imp who has seemingly harassed her and her family forever.

Using a Sherazade like narrator and fantasy elements also like in the Arabian Nights, Daina Chaviano provides an intriguing creative look at the multicultural roots that merged in Cuba. Thus readers obtain a glimpse at the impact of the Chine and the Spanish and to a lesser degree the African. Fans of historical fiction with a fascinating spin that will require an adjustment will enjoy the deep look at Cuban history and culture.

Harriet Klausner
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I have just finished -- for the second time -- a journey through the ethnic history of a people -- my people -- in a land of love and blood, a land of magically captivating landscapes in which sun and moon dance to the intoxicating rhythms of a gently rolling sea.

Chaviano's enthralling story has wrapped me in a nostalgic dream, one that has dwelt in my subconscious mind for years. It was the dream of a beautiful island paradise, one where love is indeed eternal, where the warm breezes of the Malecon enticed one with their romantic whispers, where the night pulsed with vibrant music, the music of the masters -- Ernesto Lecuona and Benny More...

This dream awakened once more in me as I read this enchanting story, which weaves the tales of three different families, three different ethnic groups, into one single thread. The experiences of each family also serve to highlight key periods of Cuban history.

There is the Chinese family, who seeks refuge from war in a land already sheltering their fellow countrymen. There is the African family, in the person of a young girl cruelly snatched from the bosom of her tribe, to be sold into slavery. Then there is the family from Spain, whose female members inherit a strangely humorous curse.

Cecilia, the protagonist, ties everything together through her unusual conversations with a mysterious old woman whom she meets in a Little Havana bar. This Miami neighborhood has been thus nicknamed for its heavy concentration of Cuban immigrants in the '60s and '70s.

As Cecilia listens to the old woman's strangely fascinating tale, Cuban boleros play in the background, while vistas of a Havana from a bygone era roll on a screen set up next to the dance floor.
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I liked this book, which I also have in Spanish. I bought it for a friend of mine who does not speak or read Spanish. The original book in Spanish is a wonderful story, and this translation is faithful to the original. For those who like romance and magic plus a little bit of Cuba's Chinese history, this is a great book. There is one thing, though, that the translation albeit excellent cannot convey: the flavor and nuance of colloquialisms that evoke nostalgia for an old Cuba. No translator can do that, no matter how good they are. For Cubans, the book is richer in the Spanish version.
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