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The Lady Matador's Hotel: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 7, 2010

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sensual prose softens the crushing blows that life doles out to almost every character in this latest from García (Dreaming in Cuban), in which six lives cross paths in a luxury hotel somewhere in the tropics of Central America. It's a gloomy portrait of modern life, told through a series of vivid, sometimes fantastical, narrative moments. In the honeymoon suite, a Korean businessman contemplates suicide as his pregnant 15-year old mistress flits around dressed up like a harlot from a bygone era. On the rooftop, waitress and ex-guerrilla Aura Estrada sips tea with her dead brother, who warns her of the arrival of the colonel who killed him. Martín Abe, the corpulent colonel, plots against leftists, curses the wife who's left him, and lusts after the most talked about guest in the hotel: Suki Palacios, also known as the Lady Matador. A Californian of Mexican and Japanese descent, Suki is in town to fight in the first ever Battle of the Lady Matadors in the Americas. The sultry atmosphere, dash of the supernatural, and well-developed characters are a winning mix, and the story's many parts move with frictionless ease.
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* The Hotel Miraflor is the epicenter for explosive conflict in the capital of an unnamed Central American country ravaged by civil war and corruption. During the first week in November 2003, a presidential campaign reaches fever pitch, a military conference convenes at the hotel, and battles intimate and political, ritualized and spontaneous, erupt with seismic force. The hotel’s most prominent guest is a veritable goddess, Suki Palacios, a lithe and fearless matador from California of Mexican and Japanese descent, a woman who brandishes her beauty like a weapon. Another indomitable woman, attorney Gertrudis, uses the hotel as headquarters for her lucrative black-market adoption operation. Won Kim, a reluctant Korean factory owner, has sequestered his pregnant teenage mistress in the honeymoon suite. Aura, an ex-guerrilla working as a waitress at the hotel, plots revenge against a murderous, weight-lifting colonel. Garcia strides and twirls with a matador’s daring, grace, and focus as she enters the psyches of diverse, intense, and unnerving characters; choreographs converging and dramatic story lines; and confronts the pervasiveness of the inexplicable. Streamlined, sexy, darkly witty, and succinctly tragic, Garcia’s fifth sharply imagined novel of caustic social critique concentrates the horrors of oppression and violence into a compulsively readable tale of coiled fury and penetrating insight. --Donna Seaman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439181748
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439181744
  • ASIN: B0057DCUQ2
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #732,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cristina García's latest novel is the darkly comic KING OF CUBA, a fictional account of Fidel Castro, an octogenarian Miami exile, and a rabble of other voices.

Her other novels include Dreaming in Cuban, The Agüero Sisters, Monkey Hunting, A Handbook to Luck, and The Lady Matador's Hotel. She has also written books for young readers, poetry, and edited anthologies.

Her work has been nominated for a National Book Award and translated into fourteen languages. She is the recipient of numerous awards and has taught literature and writing at universities nationwide.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dick Johnson VINE VOICE on September 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are many stories about these six people and one hotel. Those lives and their stories intermingle in this all too short book. And, I felt as if I was a guest at Hotel Miraflor. But, I didn't need a room. I was awake every minute I was there.

We find ourselves experiencing the complete range of emotions as we peek in on these lives. Remember, this is Latin America. This is where we are watching things happen and suddenly realize it's our hand getting caught in the car door. (You don't have to be near a car or a door for that to happen.)

Of course, in this capital of Somecountry, Central America, we are exposed to that ubiquitous leftist/centrist/rightist trying to determine the in-power group. Within that struggle we have the also ever present 'elected' government versus the military leaders. Typically the group with the most weapons wins.

If it bothers you to read about hard living or hard dying, perhaps you should skip this book (though I hope you don't). The author has given us a visceral look at the history and present in the non-fiction world of that part of the world through the characters of The Lady Matador's Hotel.

This is the first book I've read by Garcia. She hooked me with the first few pages (yeah, there were several reasons for that) and played me like a fish on the line until the end. Pure and simple, the lady can write. She packed a four hundred page novel into half as many pages.

Her words paint pictures that I could see as I was reading. I was with the waitress, the colonel, the poet, the businessman, the lawyer and the matadora. You will enjoy being another guest at Hotel Miraflor. Check in.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Sattin on September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is seriously a must read for anyone worth their artistic spit. Moving, smart, unpretentious, and lush, I'm taken in by the clarity and nuance of Garcia's prose. In a world of false literary bravado and smoke-blowing, hers is a book of delicate sincerity, where we truly gain something when the last page is turned. During the last confrontation between Aura and the colonel (you'll know what I mean when you pick it up), I found myself thinking: I have NEVER seen anything like this before. NEVER. All the characters really entered into me. The News sections are whimsical, strengthening, and often (at least so I thought, and I hope I'm not misinterpreting) funny. Oh, let me be honest: they're hilarious. Garcia moves through perspectives and personalities with such ease and perspecuity. The bullfighting scenes gave me chills. What a wonderful, unrivaled piece of literature Matador is. It will surely receive the attention it deserves.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By My2Cents VINE VOICE on September 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Lady Matador's Hotel is written by Cristina Garcia, a new to me author. The novel is written in one of my favorite styles -- omniscient, third person narration. In this story the lives of six individuals become interwoven at a luxury hotel in an unnamed in Central America capital city. The entire story takes place at the Hotel Milaflor over a period of seven days.

Central to the story is the Lady Matador, Suki Palacios who is half-Mexican and half-Japanese. She has arrived at the Hotel Miliflor from Los Angeles for the First Battle of the Lady Matadors in the Americas. Men view her as an interloper, a "scandalous woman playing at being a man". For Suki, rituals are important to her; her father instilled this belief at an early age. Prior to a fight she slips a fifty dollar bill into the offering box at the cathedral and light fourteen candles -- one for every year that she and her mother were alive. Fourteen candles for her dead mother, pink stockings first, and one sliced pear. For extra luck, she has silent sex with a stranger two days before a fight. Then right before stepping into the ring she recites three words in Spanish and Japanese: arrogance, honor and death.

Suki also likes to tempt fate and test superstitions when she isn't fighting. She wears yellow, the color of accidents and bad omens, knowing that by doing this she will catch the attention of the journalists who can't wait to interview her. She is a woman who beats to her own drummer and is not interested in traditions or conforming to a certain image.

Another strong female character is Gertrudis Stuber, a German lawyer who specialized in adoptions, calling it her "export" business.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Louis N. Gruber VINE VOICE on October 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A Korean businessman, a well-connected adoption lawyer, an unhappy poet, a former guerilla fighter who now works as a hotel maid, a right wing colonel, and, oh yes, the lady matador, Suki Palacios, who has come for a competition of lady bullfighters. Their lives intersect in and around the Miraflor Hotel, in the capital city of an unnamed Central American country. They are all outliers--people who don't quite fit in, don't quite follow the rules, searching for happiness--or something--each in their own way.

The Korean businessman is about to lose his business, the adoption lawyer is about to be swept out of business by a tide of public sentiment against foreign adoptions, and the matadora--she is gored in her first match, but plans to return for the last one. And the former guerilla fighter is receiving instructions from her dead brother, killed in the country's civil war. So, what will happen? Will any of them find what they're seeking? Will the matadora prevail in the ring? Will the Korean businessman find happiness with his teen-age mistress? And what will happen to the colonel? You'll have to read the book to find out. You will love it.

Author Cristina Garcia writes in a literary style with vivid descriptions of characters and surroundings that never interferes with the story-telling. Once you start reading this delightful short novel you will be engaged to the end. You really want to learn more about these odd but appealing characters. This is a thoroughly entertaining read and I recommend it highly. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
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