The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

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9780060974510: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

"A rich and sorrowful novel . . . that alternates crisp narrative with opulent musings--the language of everyday and the language of longing. You finish feeling . . . ready to throw up your arms and cry, Que bueno es! Mr. Hijuelos is writing music of the heart."
--New York Times Book Review

"Brilliant . . . Memorable . . . A heady and powerful triumph . . . One of the most spectacularly vibrant and moving works by an American in years."
--Alice Metcalf Miller, Cleveland Plain Dealer

When it was first published in 1989, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love became an international bestselling sensation, winning rave reviews and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that changed the landscape of American literature returns with a new afterword by Oscar Hijuelos.

Here is the story of the memorable Castillo brothers, from Havana to New York's Upper West Side. The lovelorn songwriter Nestor and his macho brother Cesar find success in the city's dance halls and beyond playing the rhythms that earn them their band's name, as they struggle with elusive fame and lost love in a richly sensual tale that has become a cultural touchstone and an enduring favorite.

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Review:

Inspired by their heroes Xavier Cugat and Desi Arnaz, brothers Cesar and Nestor Castillo come to New York City from Cuba in 1949 with designs on becoming mambo stars. Eventually they do--performing with Arnaz on "I Love Lucy" in 1955 and recording 78s with their own band, the Mambo Kings. In his second novel, Hijuelos traces the lives of the flashy, guitar-strumming Cesar and the timid, lovelorn Nestor as they cruise the East Coast club circuit in a flamingo-pink bus. Enriching the story are the brothers' friends and family members--all driven by their own private dreams. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990.

From the Back Cover:

It's 1949. It's the era of the mambo, and two young Cuban musicians make their way up from Havana to the grand stage of New York. The 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 the 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, memory and desire.

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