Call Me Cassandra
by Marcial Gala
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Pub Date 11 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 25 May 2022
“Dazzling." —Marcela Valdes, The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)
"A spellbinding novel by one of the best writers of the Americas." —Junot Díaz, author of This is How You Lose Her
Ten-year-old Rauli lives in a world that is often hostile. His older brother is violent; his philandering father doesn’t understand him; his intelligence and sensitivity do not endear him to the other children at school. He loves to read, especially Greek myths, but in Cuba in the 1970s, novels and gods can be dangerous. Despite the signs that warn Rauli to repress and fear what he is, he knows three things to be true: First, that he was born in the wrong body. Second, that he will die, aged eighteen, as a soldier in the Cuban intervention in Angola. And third, that he is the reincarnation of the Trojan princess Cassandra.
Moving between Rauli’s childhood and adolescence, between the Angolan battlefield, the Cuban city of Cienfuegos, and the shores of ancient Troy, Marcial Gala’s Call Me Cassandra tells of the search for identity amid the collapse of Cuba’s utopian dreams. Burdened with knowledge of tragedies yet to come, Rauli nonetheless strives to know himself. Lyrical and gritty, heartbreaking and luminous, Rauli’s is the story of the inexorable pull of destiny.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 11 members
I adored Marcial Gala's earlier novel The Black Cathedral and recommend his latest offering, Call Me Cassandra. Gala combines the literary and the political beautifully. And, the Cassandra myth is one that I think many relate with and is a wonderful lens with which to explore the political.
Magical and brutal story of Rauli, a delicate boy in Cuba who believes he is the doomed prophetess Cassandra.
Shifting between time, Ilyad and Angola, the protagonist shares his search for identity in a harsh world.
I found the book heart breaking and gritty, well worth reading.
Thanks to Netgalley and FSG for the ebook. Ten year old Rauli lives in Cuba with his violent brother and father and his dreamy mother, but he also knows that he is the reincarnation of Cassandra of Greek myth. This is a rough, short book where we see Rauli misunderstood and bullied in his childhood and later in Angola as he fights with his fellow Cubans in a war so far from home. The story bounces back and forth through time, even to the ancient shores of Troy, as Rauli can see the fates and deaths of each person he meets, as well as his own.
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