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The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989)

by Oscar Hijuelos

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Mambo Kings (1)

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1,820287,460 (3.58)81
It's 1949. Two young Cuban musicians make their way up from Havana to the grand stage of New York. It is the era of the mambo, and Castillo brothers, workers by day, become by night stars of the dance halls, where their orchestra plays the lush, sensuous, pulsing music that earns them the title of Mambo Kings. This is their moment of youth--a golden time that thirty years later will be remembered with nostalgia and deep affection. In The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Oscar Hijuelos has created a rich and enthralling novel about passion and loss and memory and desire.… (more)
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» See also 81 mentions

English (23)  Spanish (4)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Delve into this book if you want a cultural education in Cuba and its music. Taking place in the 1950s, two Cuban brothers emigrate to the United States with big dreams of conquering the music scene. Cesar Castillo looks back on his life, playing mambo music with his brother, Nester and having a small spotlight in the fame arena after a guest appearance on an episode of I Love Lucy. I read this book on the heels of the Netflix documentary about Desi and Lucy so it seemed as if the couple was everywhere. Confessional: I couldn't really get into this book. The parts where Desi Arnez makes an appearance were my favorite and, as the story went on, I began to skip scenes that involved sex or Nestor pining over "Beautiful Maria." I grew weary of the repetition. I did appreciate all the references to music of the era. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Apr 18, 2022 |
I read this back in 2001. I barely got through it since I was between comps. and transferring to library school. It was my first foray into Hijuelos's works, and I enjoyed very much. My impression back then:

>>This is a novel heavy on nostalgia and memory where I could almost hear the music and feel the passion of the characters.
I am honestly not sure where some of the bad reviews here on GoodReads for this book come from, but as we say in libraries, "never apologize for your book tastes." I personally think they probably missed something, but again, each reader its book and each book its reader. If some of those who disliked this book decide to give Hijuelos a chance, they may want to try [b:Mr. Ives' Christmas|11670|Mr. Ives' Christmas|Oscar Hijuelos|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1166485425s/11670.jpg|14082]. ( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
I couldn't put this book down. Although it was sad to see the downward spiral of the Moambo King, the author was able to bring the time period and experiences vividly to life. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
Pulitzer Prize Winner ( )
  atufft | Jul 4, 2019 |
Very cool book about Cuban immigrants in NY who play music. Atmospheric, fun.
  JoshSapan | May 29, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
You finish feeling as Cesar's first music teacher in Cuba told him audiences should feel when a song ends -ready to throw up your arms and cry, ''Que bueno es!'' Mr. Hijuelos is writing music of the heart, not the heart of flesh and blood that stops beating, ''but this other heart filled with light and music . . . a world of pure affection, before torment, before loss, before awareness.''
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Oscar Hijuelosprimary authorall editionscalculated
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was a Saturday afternoon on La Salle Street, years and years ago when I was a little kid, and around three o'clock Mrs Shannon, the heavy Irish woman in her perpetually soup-stained dress, open her back window and shouted out into the courtyard "Hey, Cesar, yoo-hoo, I think you're on television, I swear it's you!"
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It's 1949. Two young Cuban musicians make their way up from Havana to the grand stage of New York. It is the era of the mambo, and Castillo brothers, workers by day, become by night stars of the dance halls, where their orchestra plays the lush, sensuous, pulsing music that earns them the title of Mambo Kings. This is their moment of youth--a golden time that thirty years later will be remembered with nostalgia and deep affection. In The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Oscar Hijuelos has created a rich and enthralling novel about passion and loss and memory and desire.

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