Telex from Cuba
Rachel Kushner's ability to take a large difficult subject and make it personal, meaningful and funny appeals to me a lot. In Telex from Cuba the voices of her young protagonists, children looking on as mayhem descends, are vital and honest. This novel is a delicious insight into Cuba pre-Castro revolution; it is a Cuba financially dominated by American companies and their company men, by corrupt officials and a military dictatorship, a Cuba of one-up-manship and power games that ultimately turn in on themselves. It is also very funny - Kushner sends up the rebels, the Americans and the Cuban businessmen with aplomb, and yet it is also a tragedy on many levels - the son who is disenchanted, who joins the rebels in the jungle but in later years lives an uncomprehendingly conservative life in middle America; the teen who is Cuban-born but American, always looking from the outside, who yearns for what is missing; the girl who sees the injustice but is powerless; the complicated lives of paternalistic overseers who neither belong in their adopted country nor in their native one. The concepts of colonialism (cultural and financial), cheap labour, power struggle, political manipulation, corruption and class are played out convincingly within this novel. Kushner takes Cuba and her array of misfits and gives us a novel lush with description, full of violence and pleasure, and wonderfully absorbing.
This is a New York Times bestseller. It is the finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Fidel and Raul Castro are in the hills, descending only to burn sugarcane plantations and recruit rebels. Rachel K is in Havana's Cabaret Tokio, entangled with a French agitator trying to escape his shameful past. Everly and K.C. are growing up in the dying days of a crumbling US colony, about to discover the cruelty and violence that have created their childhood idyll.
Rachel Kushner's New York Times bestselling debut novel is a tour de force set in Cuba on the cusp of Castro's revolution, a time of colonial privilege, tropical rot, excess and rebellion.
"A lush, meticulous, cinematic debut novel" Elle "A pure treat from the cover to the very last page" Washington Post "Mutli-layered and absorbing... Kushner's style is sure and sharp, studded with illuminating images... Kushner has fashioned a story that will linger like a whiff of decadent Colony perfume" New York Times Book Review "Fresh and compelling. Kushner takes us to a place and time we've seldom visited before" San Francisco Chronicle "A stunner of a novel... A fluid, eye-opening symphony of a book" Seattle Times
Rachel Kushner's second novel, The Flamethrowers was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award and was one of the New York Times Top Ten books of 2013. Named Time's Most Popular Book among Critics, The Flamethrowers topped the Best Book lists of 2013, including those of Time, Vogue, Oprah, Slate, the Guardian, the New Yorker, the Observer, The Times, the Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Scotsman, the Herald and the Evening Standard. New York magazine declared it the number one book of 2013. Kushner's New York Times best-selling debut novel, Telex From Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the California Book Award, and a New York Times Notable Book. Kushner is the only writer ever nominated for a National Book Award for both a first and second novel. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New York Times, the Guardian, the Financial Times, The Paris Review, and Artforum. She is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship.