Member Reviews

Funnily enough, I was expecting a charged political allegory akin to the lord of flies. to be fair, i have never read lord of the flies and the only association these two titles have to each other is... well flies. but i think of human's rotten nature, of greed and the politics to do good and bad things to each other and society. and then i think, well, perhaps these narratives aren't as dissimilar as i thought.

i always mourn translated works on the surface, only because i wish and yearn to consume the media as the author intended, in its original language, with all the caveats of understanding cultural significance. i can not do that so the translation must impart that upon me. i love translated works.

I would like to say many words, but this book was an experience. Oppressive and full of humor, hauting, with magical realism, cruelty and intelligence to narrate historical events of Cuba. You have to like it because it is also daring and presents unique characters that break all kinds of taboos. And you have to like it because it also denounces something as hateful as tyrannies (both social and family).

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An entertaining work of "weird literary fiction" underpinned by political allegory. The child narrators do get a bit precocious at times, but overall, I found this to be an entertaining and quite funny read.

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A disturbing, perverted, and darkly humorous story of a family in an unknown Caribbean country deals with their father's fall from grace and a deeply entrenched dislike of each other. I alternated between cringing and laughing out loud.

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I am so thankful to the publisher, the author, and Netgalley for granting me advanced access to this thriller before it hits shelves on June 25, 2024. This one wasn't for me, but I am still so thankful for the opportunity to read and review it.

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What started off as a cool premise quickly lost its fun factor and then just became a slog after a bit. I was excited for a new and interesting concept but my hopes were dashed rather quickly.

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Rarely do I read a novel that is both unsettling and disgusting, as well as absolutely crucial. This weird little story is a haunting allegory for not just what capitalism and fascism can do to a society, but how children are affected by the depravity of adults. I think the author’s foreword and the translator’s afterward said it all- the world we live in does not value our children, and routinely exploits and abuses them for the benefit of adults and their wallets. As a new mother, I found that message to be so strong and well written. A powerful and strange story that will stay with me for a long time.

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Strange tale of a strange family with a political (stuttering) patriarch. I agree with the reviewer that the concept of the story is interesting, and that Madruga is a strong writer, but the execution is lacking.

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I could not finish this book. About 30 pages in I realized it wasn’t for me and lost interest. I love strange books but the narration of this book was strange in an off putting way. Also, I felt references to “leader mustache” were bizarre and infantile.

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I have to go against the grain and say I didn’t care for this one. I read a lot of weird literary fiction, and based on the description, The Tyranny of Flies sounded like it would be a perfect match for me. This is, in fact, some very weird literary fiction—and for a lot of people, I think it’ll work. It very much does what it says on the tin and is a representation of dictatorship and rebellion playing out both in and outside of a family’s home.

But for me, anything valuable that this book had to say was completely buried under its stylistic choices, as well as the fact that nothing but a great deal of repetition happens until roughly 60%. Of course, certain things like the toilet humor and the ‘fecal prefix’ are intentional, but I did wonder about the differences between the translation and the original text, as the version I read ended up feeling very strangely structured, repetitive, and at times it sort of drowned in its own prose. There were times where certain trains of thought and perspective shifts became difficult to follow, so I ended up checking out the Spanish reviews, and unfortunately, it sounds like the same was true in the original text.

This probably wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the whole thing hadn't also come off as incredibly pretentious—this book thinks that it’s a lot smarter and funnier than it actually is, despite the themes being as minimally explored as the bottom of the goddamned ocean, and there’s nowhere that better demonstrates this than Tyranny’s batshit insane foreword. The original editor discusses the book in an almost masturbatory fashion, lauding the author as some great creative in the tone most people would use to discuss an author who’s been dead for at least fifty years already. It’s legitimately some of the most aggravating and pseudo-intellectual shit I’ve ever seen, and I would go so far as to say it’s the most offputting introduction to a book I’ve ever read.

My other issue was that this is clearly supposed to be a very character-centric novel, and we spend a lot of time in the same enclosed spaces with the same people going over the same things, but the characters never truly felt fleshed out, only defined by a few necessary characteristics for the purpose of telling the story. Had there been more plot to balance this out, or even the slightest amount of additional characterization, it could have worked, but instead it made for a strangely flat cast in what seemed to be intended as a character study/political allegory.

Fundamentally, Elaine Vilar Madruga is a strong writer, and there were some standout lines throughout. She’s very good with abstract imagery and scene-setting, visceral descriptions, etc, and I enjoyed reading her writing, I just didn’t enjoy what the words were saying. Overall, I feel very conflicted even a few days out from finishing, and though I was impressed by the themes presented in The Tyranny of Flies and appreciated what the author was going for, I can’t recommend it, and I really can't bring myself to offer more than one star. Cool idea, poor execution.

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I had a ridiculously good time with this book. It was dark and morbid, but funny and touching in some ways.

A family locked away when the patriarch falls from grace…
Siblings who are all subjected to their father’s paranoia and their mother’s obsession with armchair psychoanalysis…
A plot to kill and end their suffering…

There were moments when the humanity of Casandra, Calia, and Caleb’s parents peeked through, but wow, were they messy!!! Their father was right hand to a dictator, but his decline in power has built up fear and paranoia in the man, causing the decision to lock his family away in their crumbling home. Their mother is obsessed with dissecting their brains, looking for what is causing them to be such troublesome children. The damage this woman inflicts… oof!

Cassandra, her younger brother Caleb, and their younger sister Calia are all weird in their own ways, which are equally entertaining. It was FOR SURE the contrasting personalities that had me so locked into this book. All vibes, no reasoning!

The siblings realize that they will have to take matters into their own hands if they want to be free from their tyrannical parents, as well as the actual tyrannical ruler they collectively live under…

I highly recommend this book!

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In Gerry Dunn's pitch perfect translation, Elaine Vilar Madruga's novel is as sad and funny as a dancing bear: a significant achievement from one of Cuba's - and the Americas' - youngest and most outspoken writers working today.

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This had a great concept and I enjoyed the humor in this book, it had a great cast of characters and I enjoyed everything that was going on. I never felt like it was unrealistic and I enjoyed the uniqueness of this story. The story worked well and I enjoyed what Elaine Vilar Madruga wrote.

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tragic, dark, grotesque, weird, reminds me a lot of moshfegh meets 1984 meets dunn in all the best ways. thanks for the arc.

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This book is deeply funny, dark, and strange in a way that both gripped and unnerved me. It is definitely an acquired taste, but its unique style and dark sense of humor is compelling. I enjoyed how this book both subverts and adheres to characteristics of Latin American Literature. I couldn't help but see Clara from House of the Spirits in the character of Calia, for example. I think The Tyranny of Flies is subversive, however, as it wields absurd, exaggerated scenarios (Cassandra's intense desire for intimate objects, animals that die in Caleb's presence without reason, and Calia's anatomically correct drawings of elephants she communicates with instead of speaking) to examine the authoritarian influences that penetrate the sibling's homelife. As they begin to rebel, the parent's fragile hold on them unravels as they attempt to conform the family to the laws of the nation and enforce a regime in the house. This was a strange read that is not for everyone, but if you want a contemporary and strange rendition of Latin American history, you should give it a try! Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy.

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Well that was an interesting read. I’m not sure what I really think about The Tyranny of Flies. It is a critique of authoritarianism on multiple levels and reader interpretations will vary depending on prior personal experiences. Slightly off-putting humor and grossness but a quick read I kept turning the pages on regardless. I’m curious to compare the English and Spanish versions as several times the word choices seemed repetitive from one page to the next.
Overall it was entertaining but I’m not sure if I would recommend it; I’m conflicted.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harpervia for sharing this advanced readers copy.

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A black tragicomedy of epic (and grotesque) proportions complete with potty humor. A scathing indictment of not only authoritarianism and dictatorship in Cuba on the surface level, but on all governments where the desires and choices of adults trump the benefit and even life of children at every turn. My head is still swimming a bit from what I’ve just read and I’m sure this will be a polarizing release rendering strong reactions. It’s going to be a love/hate affair for many I would think. I found it entertaining, jarring and thought-provoking. It’s not my favorite work as of late, but perhaps it’s not supposed to be? A solid 3.5 stars rounded up for me. Thanks to NetGalley and HarperVia for the ARC.

Releasing June 25, 2024.

#TheTyrannyofFlies #NetGalley

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Reading this truly felt like a fever dream. Described as a mix between Lord of the Flies and The Royal Tenenbaums, the Tyranny of Flies follows a family living under two dictatorships— one under their father, and one under their country’s leader, Pop Pop Mustache. If you stick it out, the reading experience can be quite humorous and entertaining.

I’m not sure I understood all of it on the first read— in fact, I’m nearly certain I didn’t— but I can say that there Madruga achieves a lot in the span of this relatively short book. Beyond the scope of a political system, The Tyranny of Flies explores authoritarianism through the lens of family. I haven’t read anything like this, and I’m certain most people haven’t either.

Thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy.

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