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Monkey Hunting follows one family from China to Cuba to America in an emotionally resonant tale of immigration, assimilation, and the powerful integrity of self.
In 1857, when Chen Pan signs a contract that will take him from China “beyond the edge of the world to Cuba,” he has no idea that he will be enslaved on a sugarcane plantation . . . or that he will eventually, miraculously, escape his bonds and embark on a prosperous life in Havana’s Chinatown . . . or that he will buy a mulatto woman out of slavery and take her into his home and heart . . . or that he will end his long days in Havana, surrounded by children and grandchildren, as Cuban as he is Chinese.
In a vivid tapestry of incident and feeling, Chen Pan’s life story is interwoven with those of two of his descendants: his granddaughter, Chen Fang, born in China and raised as a boy so she could be educated, her life coming to its end in one of Mao’s hellish prisons, and Domingo, Chen Pan’s great-great-grandson, who, with his father, becomes an American citizen after Castro’s revolution, only to lose his parent to the false promises of the American dream, and himself, finally, to the madness of wartime Vietnam.
Deeply stirring, wonderfully evocative of time and place, rendered in the lyrical prose that is Cristina García’s hallmark, Monkey Hunting brilliantly illuminates a generations-long struggle toward a sense of true belonging.
“Monkey Hunting demonstrates that Ms. García can write just as persuasively about men as she has about women, and it signals her ambition to broaden her canvas, to explore in detail not only her characters’ inner lives but also the great public events that shape their daily existences.”
—The New York Times
“Gorgeously detailed and entrancingly told, erotic, mystical, and wise, García’s bittersweet saga of a family of remarkable individuals spans a century of displacement, war, and sacrifice, and a world of forbearance and love. . . . [García] writes pristinely lyrical and enchanting prose, and creates powerfully alluring characters, delectable qualities she takes to new heights in this many-faceted tale about an extended Chinese Cuban family.”
“Graceful . . . Told in unsparing detail . . . Though García ranges further afield here than in previous works, her prose is as tight and polished as ever. . . . [Her] novel is a richly patterned mini-epic, a moving chorus of distinct voices.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)