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

4.0 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 7, 2010
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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 (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,657,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tanstaafl 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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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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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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This book reminds me of the classic movies were numerous characters run parallel lives and stars act in cameo roles to play all the multitude of characters in the story. It is like an airplane movie where we understand just enough about the characters to appreciate their history and point of view and then get to watch them interact. There are six storylines that involve six main characters that all interact in a hotel in Central America. The novel revolves around character traits more than about plot, so we see characters interact in situations rather than follow a smaller number of characters through a more complex plot that acts as a central armature, which is more typical of novels. It is also a novel that clearly deals with feminist themes, especially the role of women in society. Garcia's depiction of women and the life choices and life paths they take showed considerable insight. All of this personality drama is further embedded in political drama as the leftist freedom fighters struggle against the rightist fascist military powers. In fact this theme is as strong as the feminist themes that run through the book. I found the book to be humorous, not in a slapstick silly way, but in a cynical observer way. The details sum up the character. Fashion choices are fate. The lady matador's press conference answers to questions from the press is a perfect example of the sly humor embedded in the cynicism. Garcia writes well in a journalistic style that conveys meaning with well chosen details about the characters. She never bores the reader but keeps up a fast pace since she has six main characters to juggle in a short 200 page novel. You will speed through it, you will be entertained.
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