It is 1947 and Israel Levis, a Cuban composer whose life had once been a dream of music, love and sadness, is returning to Habana, Cuba from Spain where he has just recovered from the physical and spiritual malaises resulting from his experiences in Paris -- then Buchenwald -- during the Nazi occupation of France. (A devout Catholic, Levis had been mistakenly identified as a Jew because of his name.)
Arriving back in Habana, Levis's mind is reeling with beautiful memories of his life before the war, a life of pleasure and excitement that he owes, in part, to an unrequited, nearly "chivalrous" romance with a certain Rita Valladares, a singer for whom Levis had written his most famous song, "Rosas Puras" or "Pretty Roses." This 1928 composition becomes the most famous rumba in the world; and it is the song, symbolic of the composer's love for Rita Valladares, that sets Levis' life in Europe in motion.
This is a love story -- for art, family and country -- as well as a portrait of Habana at the turn of the last century, when "the world was good." A Simple Habana Melody is a virtuoso performance from one of our most important writers.Performed by Jimmy Smits
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Oscar Hijuelos's sixth novel, A Simple Habana Melody, is as much a love song to prewar Cuba as the "simple melody" at the center of the book. That tune, named "Roses Puras," was written by Hijuelos's protagonist, the aging composer Israel Levis, in the 1920s for his protégé and secret love, the singer Rita Valladares. The novel is set just after World War II, when Levis has returned to his childhood home in Havana after many years in Europe, at first in Paris, then in Buchenwald, where he was interned by Nazis who ignored the crucifix around his neck and focused only on his Sephardic name. The bittersweet feelings Levis bears toward "Rosas Puras" ("Beautiful Roses"), his best-known song, were further complicated when a German officer, who had gathered some musically gifted inmates for a concert, asked him to play this catchy old tune, unaware that Levis had written it. But this is not primarily a war novel; it is a novel of memory, a series of visits to the beautiful, vanished world of Levis's childhood and youth seen through the lens of his later suffering. Written with the same richness of detail, sensuality, and musicality of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1990, A Simple Habana Melody contains even greater emotional depth and narrative complexity. --Regina MarlerAbout the Author:
Oscar Hijuelos was born of Cuban parentage in New York City in 1951. He is a recipient of the Rome Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. His five previous novels have been translated into twenty-five languages.
Oscar Hijuelos nació de padres cubanos en Nueva York en 1951. Sus otras novelas incluyen Mr. Ives' Christmas, The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien, Our House in the Last World y A Simple Havana Melody (Una Sencilla Melodía Habanera). Vive en Nueva York.
Jimmy Smits has received an Emmy nomination for each year on TV in the hit series L.A. Law and NYPD Blue, winning one in 1990. Smits has also starred in such films as Price of Glory and My Family, Mi Familia. He portrays Senator Bail Organa in Star Wars II and III.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97800600948051.0