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Ernesto Mestre-Reed Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Ernesto Mestre-Reed
Ernesto Mestre-Reed was born in 1964 in Guantanamo, Cuba. His family emigrated to Madrid, Spain in the year 1972 and later that same year to Miami, Florida.

Ernesto is a MacDowell Fellow and a Guggenheim Fiction Fellow. He also teaches writing at Brooklyn College. He’s translated many novels from Spanish, including the novel “Malinche” by Laura Esquivel.

Ernesto was drawn to the movement of people infecting themselves with HIV to some degree because he’d wanted to write about queer desire, and he wanted to write one final novel about Cuba. However it was the idea of queer desire and how exactly it’s connected to this ideal of liberty which is never quite achieved. He played around with this for such a long time in creating “Sacrifico”. In some ways it is a novel about broken ideals, both in a social sense, with revolution, however also in the personal sense, with the characters.

There was a Cuban artist that had this exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, and much of the work was about the sorts of shacks that people build on roofs. And Ernesto began doing research about it. It’s such a fascinating way to live right on the edge of society. So it started from there, what sort of people would live in this sort of society, and how would they that work in the system be drawn to something like that?

After finishing the novel, he’s finished with Cuba. With that said, he’s not done with Cubans. They’re notoriously conservative due to their anti-communist stance, so he has a novel where there is is this incredibly successful Cuban woman who gets involved in the insurrection in the Capital. It is almost about this demented search to find liberty that always goes wrong in some way with Cubans, and that has been the country’s history.

“The Second Death of Unica Aveyano” is a stand alone novel and was released in 2004. Unica Aveyano sneaks out of her Miami nursing home, this one night in April, and wanders toward the sea. Whether she intends on ending her life or just looking out at the ocean depends on whom you believe. She leaves her husband behind, as well as a devoted nurse, the solicitude of her family, and the images of this little boy named Elian Gonzalez which are all over the news at the moment.

This rash choice that she made sets in motion a gorgeously told story which is at once elegy and comedy. Every lived moment evokes for Unica a tale from her past, and we live this past along with her: from the ghosts of her mom and stepdad in 1930s Guantanamo, and her beloved yet wayward son, who refused to leave Cuba with the rest of her family, on to her exile in New York City and Miami.

A chronicle of the strange and familiar, of clarity and madness, of the ambivalence of family and home, this reveals unforgettably an indomitable woman whose entire life now appears to be a dress rehearsal for the heady time before she dies.

Readers found this novel to be captivating, beautiful, and poetic. The novel is interesting, almost delicately conceived book by quite a gifted author, and definitely worth checking out. Ernesto’s prose is so gorgeous that some fans of the book stopped multiple times to record lines that blew them away.

This is a funny, powerful, and resonant story about one extraordinary woman and the many lives that she graces and ruins. Unica is just as compelling and poignant and purely Cubana as they come. Her story is dirty and fleshy, honest, and is shot through with close to magical beauty.

Ernesto is a masterful observer, the creator of some dazzling word portraits: Here there is the subtlest shift of facial expression, the minor disappointments of any given day, the manifold details of romantic and family life, the most elusive yet crushing emotion, all of it captured in daring and poetic prose. This book, a story-fable about a single family caught up in the tragedy of contemporary Cuba, pulls its authority and unforgettable emotional power from this luminous intimacy.

“Sacrificio” is a stand alone novel and was released in 2022. “Sacrificio”, set in Cuba in the year 1998, is a mesmeric and triumphant work about identity, violence, and loss, following this group of young HIV-positive counterrevolutionaries that seek to overthrow the Castro government.

Rafa, an Afro-Cuban orphan, moves without anything to his name to Havana and winds up falling into a job at this cafe. He is quickly pulled into a web of ever-shifting entanglements with Renato, the son of Rafa’s boss, and he is the charismatic leader of “Los Injected Ones”, a counterrevolutionary group. This group is planning a violent overthrow of the Castro government during the upcoming visit of Pope John Paul II.

When Renato vanishes, Rafa’s search for his friend takes him through different haunts in Havana: from the guest rooms of tourist hotels, to an AIDS sanatorium, to the outskirts of the capital, where he enters a phantasmagorical slum cobbled together out of the city’s detritus by Los Injected Ones.

A novel of cascading prose which captures a nation in a slow collapse, this is a visionary work, capturing all of the passion, grim humor, fury, and fatalism of young lives lived at the margins of a society that they desperately wish to change.

Readers found this to be bleak and darkly funny, compelling and sinuous, and is a book about queer desire, the mutability of desire, and layer upon layer of deceit: family betrayals, self-deception, and the disinformation of governments and spies. Ernesto’s prose is wry, frenetic, and utterly charming, and readers would follow these characters anywhere they go.

This novel is a feast of love and revolution, ideals and ideas, passion and intrigue; but above all else it’s a feast of language. The book is an explosive and propulsive read, and even if you wanted to put this book down, you wouldn’t want to. This is a magical novel with turns twists, and plot lines sure to massage your imagination, with complex characters that will force the reader to struggle with disgust and empathy.

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