The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien: A Novel

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9780061007590: The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien: A Novel

A family heritage follows the lives of a photographer father, an aristocratic mother, their youngest child and only son, and fourteen daughters. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mambo King Sings Songs of Love. Reprint.

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About 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.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Hijuelos's fluency--whether seamlessly singing the sad ballad of a family harrowed by madness and displacement in his first novel, Our House in the Last World (1985), or the slightly happier, warmer, more infectious up-tempo one of the Pulitzer-winning The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989)--is his signature, and here he gives it a very, very long solo in a family chronicle that follows a huge Irish-Cuban family across the span of a century. The very title here speaks of muchness, and muchness is delivered--but much, disappointingly, about very little. The eponymous brother is a 1950's B-movie actor who hits the rocks, a pattern of modest success without hope of permanence that began with his Irish-born photographer father and Cuban poetess mother. The Montez O'Briens grow up in a small Pennsylvania town, and Hijuelos follows them out and back--to Cuba, New York, Hollywood, Alaska, Ireland--as they make do individually and together. But as often imperils such a feckless, loose-woven, overly charactered book, Hijuelos pretty quickly gives up trying to invest each sibling with the same detailed attention, focusing instead on the patrician eldest sister, Margarita--a woman of innate dignity and poise--and leaving the rest to serve as mere counterpoints. What Hijuelos seems to want to do more intently is write lyrically, and he does. Sometimes it's good lyricism--as in Mambo Kings, Hijuelos writes about sex with just the right amount of dirty relish and melody--and sometimes it's awful, plunging to the novice level: ``In his sisters' company, he'd experience a sensation of pure happiness and it would seem that everything around them emanated from those females, the world itself a fertile living thing, the earth beneath them humming with its unseen life....'' A family chronicle can manage to achieve both harmony and individuality- -Larry Woiwode's Beyond the Bedroom Wall is an example--but it takes a concentration of imagination that Hijuelos hasn't engaged here. Fat but flat. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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