Language, Translation, and the Intimacy of Community

Chicago Review of Books

Straightaway, readers are invited to join the ceremony devoted to the Virgin of Candlemas in the opening pages of Queen of Bones. The novel begins on Oyá’s Feast Day and features a scene with a character recognizable to readers of Teresa Dovalpage’s 2018 Havana mystery, Death Comes in through the Kitchen.

The focus soon shifts to two new characters: Sharon and her longtime partner, Juan. They live in New Mexico but Juan is making travel arrangements; he has not returned to Cuba since 1994, when he left on a raft and arrived in the United States barely alive. He has a “complicated relationship” with his homeland and these complications arouse Sharon’s interest steadily until she decides to accompany him.

Sharon experiences Cuba as a tourist. Relative to her, Juan experiences his homeland as a Cuban, but resident Cubans perceive Juan as belonging more to La Yuma (America). But…

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