THE DEATH OF FIDEL PEREZ
On July 26, 2003, the 50th anniversary of the Moncada Army Barracks raid that sparked the Cuban revolution, something unexpected happens. When Fidel Pérez and his brother accidentally tumble to their deaths from their Havana balcony, the neighbors’ outcry, “Fidel has fallen,” is misinterpreted by those who hear it. The wishful mistake quickly ripples outward on the running cries of the people, and it gloriously reawakens a suppressed city. Three Habaneros in particular are affected by the news—an elderly street visionary named Saturnina, the remorseful Professor Pedro Valle, and his impressionable firebrand of a student, Camilo—all haunted by the past and now, once again, made to confront a new future, perhaps another revolution. Their stories are beautifully intertwined as they converge in the frantic crowd that gathers in La Plaza de la Revolución. Both insightful and personal, by turns humorous and poignant, The Death of Fidel Pérez reflects the broken promises of the Cuban Revolution. Elizabeth Huergo’s breathtaking debut fairly rings with the triumphant heart of a nation.
“There is an erudition of language and a wealth of dramatized history in this novel. Both a portrait of the realities of the revolution and a speculative fiction as to what has happened to the Cuban soul with the event of Fidel Castro’s rise and—in this scenario—what may well happen with his passing, The Death of Fidel Pérez will reward both a general audience looking for a lively read and the discerning reader who truly cares about literature: in short, a heartfelt and well-written novel, with a provocative premise.” — Oscar Hijuelos
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One particular good citizen, Saturnina, was squatting on a doorstep just a few blocks away, feeding a hard biscuit to a hungry stray dog, when she heard the news that Fidel and his brother had fallen. Saturnina rose from her corolla of ragged skirts and began to walk toward the throng of people gathering before the building and spilling over into the street, blocking the morning traffic. Though she could see nothing of what had happened, in a swirl of petticoats and skirts she began to mimic the words she heard: “¡Socorro! ¡Fidel calló! Help! Fidel has fallen!”
Saturnina, Sybil of the succulent bit of news that lodges like a string of pork gristle in the space between back teeth, began to fidget and whirl her way through the edges of the gathering crowd, calling out what she had instantly accepted as fact: The apocalypse that would precede the return of her son Tomás, whom she had lost decades earlier in the violent interregnum between Fulgencio Batista and Fidel Castro, had begun.
“¡Fidel calló! His brother has fallen, too!”
Stepping and swirling, the old woman tripped along the farthest perimeter of the bloody scene. As she passed along the streets calling out her news, housewives peered through rusted iron rails, pulling back quickly into darkened interiors. Men and women on errands or on their way to work or school stopped to listen, then sped on, looking back over their shoulders nervously.