Not a large book but voluminous and various and well worth reading twice or thrice. Medina's ravishing, sportive anatomy of nostalgia will earn the admiration of fans of that genre's grandmaster, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. —Recommended by Matthew, City Lights Books
Poet and novelist Pablo Medina's new book, Cubop City Blues, fuses raw, passionate language and elegant lyricism to breathe life into a musically disguised New York City, shaped by jazz masters, refugees, and storytellers.
Our guide into Cubop City is The Storyteller, born nearly blind and shrouded in his mother's guilt. He's homeschooled, closeted inside his parents' crumbling apartment with a European housekeeper and educated through The Encyclopedia Britannica, the Bible, and The Arabian Nights. When he’s twenty-five, his mother and father, both Cuban exiles, are diagnosed with cancer, and The Storyteller alone is left to care for them. He does so by telling them stories, conceived from the prolific reading that allowed his imagination to deepen and flourish despite little contact with the outside world.
Through his tales—full of magic, sorrow, longing, and romance—Cubop City surges colorfully to life. Moving through myriad points of view, The Storyteller imagines a world populated by well-known figures like Chano Pozo, the Cuban percussionist, and Jelly Roll Morton, the American jazz pianist, and invented characters, most notably a love-struck man who is stabbed by a stranger on the street and embarks on a novel-long search for his attacker.
Molded in the cadence and harmony of Afro-Cuban jazz, Cubop City Blues is a symphonic portrait of a bustling urban landscape and the intimate lives and stories that give a city its voice.