Publication Date: December 25, 2012
In The Tragedy of Fidel Castro by João Cerqueira, war is coming. Fidel Castro has a plan to engage and best JFK. One of God’s agents calls to warn him of the impending conflict and he hatches a plan to stop the war that hinges on his only son returning to Earth. The Tragedy of Fidel Castro is a religious and political satire. João Cerqueira is an award-winning Portuguese author. The Tragedy of Fidel Castro was named Book of the Year by Os Meus Livros (a literary trade magazine based in Portugal).
I am so honored to have been asked to review The Tragedy of Fidel Castro in advance of its release in the United States (it has been out for many years in Portugal and well received there). The Tragedy of Fidel Castro does bear, in its writing, a different cultural tone to what we would normally see from a writer for whom English is a first language. The author brilliantly balances the formal tone and themes of capitalism, socialism and religion with an appropriate dose of the ridiculous. The novel opens with God getting a telephone call to tell him that war is coming “Oh, for God’s sake!” exclaimed God in exasperation.” (location 40 — from the .pdf copy loaded to my Kindle).
The metaphorical lacing of the language is, at points, heavy-handed. One of Castro’s prisoners is described as being armed with a sickle and hammer (location 1371) when Castro interrogates him which, as we know, is the symbol of the Communist Party. It is my impression as a reader, that these sorts of references may have been more subtle in the original language of composition.
The characterization of The Tragedy of Fidel Castro is well done. God and Christ are written in the sense of traditional Greek gods as neither is all knowing or all seeing. They have their sources of information. JFK is more a king than a leader who makes snap decisions and has heavy faults. Castro tries to stack the deck in his favor by involving the Devil. All elements make The Tragedy of Fidel Castro a more interesting read. The feeling I got with each page was one that I compare to the first time I read The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. I might not get it completely at first but all tied together by the end, and there’s a feeling of having expanded my worldview a bit on every page.
Plot-wise this novel flows through a series of moves involving deep thought. As the characters look into themselves, the readers look into themselves and reflect on their thinking and the perceptions we held.
If you’re a fan of satire, history or generally good literature, I highly recommend The Tragedy of Fidel Castro. I would not recommend it if you take religious history too seriously. The Tragedy of Fidel Castro received the following rewards:
Beverly Hills Book Awards 2014 Winner in Multicultural Fiction
The USA Best Book Awards 2013 Winner in Multicultural Fiction
Beverly Hills Book Awards 2014 Finalist in Literary Fiction
The USA Best Book Awards 2013 Finalist in Historical Fiction
ForeWord Book of The Year Awards 2012 Winner in Translations (Bronze medal)
Nominated for the Montaigne Medal 2014
Read an excerpt and buy The Tragedy of Fidel Castro by João Cerqueira on