LUZ, Book I: Comings and Goings
Students of Isabel Allende, Ben Okri, and Gabriel Marquez will embrace the writings of Luis Gonzalez. Hispanic and Afro-literary heritage pupils will enjoy the soothing tremors of a new native, linguistic rhythm. Luz may usher in a new era in non-Western writing. One Hundred Years of Solitude jolted the world with insight into the post-colonial chaos which reigned upon a small hamlet. The hamlet was all of South America. Isabel Allende cradled us in the wisdom and somber revelations of The Stories of Eva Luna, illuminating fragile women forging the strength of identity in a machismo society. Ben Okri brings mysticism and African Realism to the highest level and in the stories of The Famished Road. Now, Luis Gonzalez brings us the hunger and plight of a nation. Cubas history and resolve are characterized through the protagonists and antagonists Clara and Rigo. Clara narrates the desperation and hope of a people. We see her as a multi-dimensional character. Clara wishes to flee the restrictions, rationing, and political inhibitions of Cuba. She wants to flee in a Cuban Flotilla to the land of opportunity, America. She struggles against the taboo of openly expressing her joy over the freedom to be. Family attempts to discourage her. But, she is determined. Her husband, Rigo, must be converted to the very idea of America and freedom from shortages and a constrained life. He is staid in the hopelessness and despair. His family experienced the elusive nature of hope that can be swashed so quickly. Yet, Clara is confirmed in her convictions. She seduces her husband with the thought of expanding his static career as an architect in the promised land of Americas San Francisco. Clara plans to visit her family quietly and bid them farewell. All hope is concentrated upon a leap to freedom.
However, freedom does not always grant sovereignty. And Clara discovers this as she encounters one to test her faith. A messenger comes to her from afar. The Angelic messenger prompts Clara to question to weigh her fate against her destiny. To do so, Clara must let go of her immediate dream and one close to her. This choice presented by the Angel may cause Clara to lose her husband. Volition can be a double edged sword presented by God to man. Why must she do this? What is she to ascertain about herself, her spouse, and her faith. What must she release and what must she become receptive to? This is the thesis of Luz. It is a story of country, faith and belief in Cuban spaces. This book, like those written by Marquez, Allende, and Okri could only be told by one of Cuban origins and culture. This book is a small window into the Cuban ethos that can only be disclosed by a Cuban patriot to the culture and psyche of his/her people.
I enjoyed the mystique of this work in the beginning. As a trilogy, the first segments of Luz were cryptic and beckoned me to read more and understand more. The writer is a good historian of contemporary, Cuban history. But, I yearned for more as the characters appeared. The characters lacked the depth of the works of Marquez, Allende, and Okri. But, this is the start of the trilogy; I comforted myself with this thought. I did gain empathy and compassion for the plight of the characters. I saw the characters as being authentic and complete round, classic characters. Still, I yearned for more depth. The dialogue between the characters was curt. Yet, the writer implemented historical references to the advantage of his characterization. The actions of the characters followed the path of the historical events. Imagery was used well by the writer too. I could see the streets of Cuba. I could feel the drab nature of worn, dull clothing. I felt hindered and inhibited.
The next two installments of this trilogy are to be awaited. I will look for further character development. I will anticipate the tradition of Magical Realism that is so vital to Latino and Hispanic voices in classics. The title of this book is Luz and it is one drawn from a biblical city. The name bears many contradictions. I hope this trilogy spurs us to unravel the contradictions, mysteries, and yearnings over the years.
This page was created by an City Book Review staff member.
|Page Count||258 pages|
|Publisher||Burnt Copper Press|
|Amazon||Buy this Book|