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The Messenger by Mayra Montero
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The Messenger

by Mayra Montero

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mayra Monteroprimary authorall editionscalculated
Grossman, EdithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060929618, Paperback)

Here are the facts: in June of 1920 the legendary Italian tenor Enrico Caruso arrived in Havana, Cuba, on tour. During a matinee performance of Aïda a bomb went off in the Teatro Nacional, and Caruso, in a panic, rushed out into the streets of the city and disappeared for several days. Taking off from this historical footnote, Cuban-born writer Mayra Montero has impressively imagined what might have occurred during the singer's "lost weekend." The Messenger is narrated by Aida Petrirena Cheng, a Chinese Cuban mulatto woman whom Caruso literally runs into just moments after the explosion. If the singer is shocked by events, Aida is not; she has already been warned by her godfather, a Santería priest, that a man "will come to crown you and tell you that you are the queen of his thoughts. Before that you will hear the thunder, the walls will fall down, there will be dust and fire." She instantly recognizes that Caruso is the man of her godfather's vision, and with that recognition comes a frisson of fear, for old José de Calazán Bangoché had given another warning.
"On that day--listen carefully--take your protection out of your clothing and put it over your hair. Then you bring me that man, you will have to bring him to me." He picked up the ékuele and hid it between his hands. "He is coming to die. But if you don't want that, bring him to me right away, he will not die. Bring him so you won't be tainted. He is not coming to die: he is already dead when he comes."
Aida does as she is told, bringing Caruso to her godfather's house where she and the singer soon become lovers. As their love affair escalates, so does the danger--from the people Caruso believes are trying to kill him, but even more from the disease that is slowly consuming him.

Montero tells this star-crossed tale from several perspectives: Aida, her daughter, Enriqueta, and the testimonials of several different witnesses to the events of that June day when the bomb first went off. Propelled by the rhythms of santeria, infused with folk lore and magic, The Messenger is a magical portrait of love that comes too late--and death that comes too soon. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:19 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A bomb explodes during a performance of the opera Aida in 1920s Havana. As he flees the blast, tenor Enrico Caruso runs into a Chinese-Cuban woman who is also called Aida. What follows is a romance that parallels the opera. By the author of In the Palm of Darkness.… (more)

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