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King Bongo

King Bongo

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Add This - King Bongo

Written by Thomas SanchezAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Thomas Sanchez

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • On Sale: May 11, 2004
  • Price: $13.95
  • ISBN: 978-0-679-73746-9 (0-679-73746-4)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

Thomas Sanchez, the author of the Key West novel Mile Zero (“A comic masterpiece bursting with vital characters, its brilliantly contrived plot uncoils with the suspense of a thriller.” —New York Times), returns to the tropics with King Bongo, a fevered dream of dangerous desires and political treachery amid the glamour, intrigue and corruption of 1950s Havana.

On New Year’s Eve 1957, a terrorist bomb rips through Havana’s famous Tropicana nightclub. King Bongo, a rogue Cuban American, tortured by a mysterious past and possessed of a mythic musical talent, goes on the hunt for the culprits, and for his sister, known as the Panther, Cuba’s most exotic showgirl, who disappeared in the explosion.

Navigating Havana’s maze of colonial backstreets, red-light districts, Chinatown alleys, swank country clubs and opulent casinos, Bongo becomes ensnared by other complicated and outrageous lives—American hit men plotting a political assassination, decadent movie stars trolling with their bait of teenage mistresses, prophetic shoeshine boys and hotel maids willing to sacrifice their lives for the right social cause; a beautiful American socialite weaving a web of erotic intrigue—and, more dangerously, by Humberto Zapata, a sinister Machiavellian secret police operative, with whom Bongo will have a final explosive showdown.

Thomas Sanchez reimagines a world of lush sensuality where Cuban and American cultures collide in a riveting novel of graphic power.

“Unflinching realism . . . a passport into Cuba’s many layers, comfortable with the sun-kissed and the damned.” —The Miami Herald

“Big-picture, epic story-telling…full of believable myth. Sanchez has taken the entire historical and cross-cultural immensity of [Havana] and telescoped it into an intricately twisted mystery.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“An exotic portrait of sex, violence, corruption and conspiracy in Cuba.” Washington Post

“It's fast. It's a thriller. It's sexy and violent. . . . As propulsive as the Gulf Stream. King Bongo uses the conventions of the thriller, mixed with a little magical realism and a lot of parody, to approach serious issues from a different angle.” Los Angeles Times

“An exotic portrait of sex, violence, corruption and conspiracy.” —The Washington Post

"Big-picture, epic story-telling. . . . Sanchez has taken the entire historical and cross-cultural immensity of his [Havana] and telescoped it into an intricately twisted mystery." —San Francisco Chronicle

“[King Bongo] swims with revolutionaries and corrupt police, American gangsters and debauched Hollywood movie stars, Cuban showgirls and rich American tourists. Its colors are lurid, its tropes ambitious, its narrative piled high with upholstered imagery…Sanchez presents this rich gumbo with an assured showmanship.” —South Florida Sun Sentinel

“Imagine that the styles of Raymond Chandler and Graham Greene eloped and ran off to Havana in 1957—Sanchez’s King Bongo is their love child. . . . A beautiful book.” —The San Francisco Examiner

“Gripping . . . Sanchez is a marvelous writer. He creates startling images of worlds unknown to the average reader. Then he propels his stories at high speed. Once you are launched into King Bongo, you must keep reading to find out what happens.” —Houston Chronicle

“Seduction and betrayal…a classic noir style that dances to a ‘50s beat…rich pop culture details and political reverberations…[Sanchez’s] Havana is a lavish and menacing dreamscape.” —St. Petersburg Times

“Sanchez has exhumed a lost moment in time—the last days of a Caribbean Pompei.” —The Oregonian

“Colorful, vibrant and pulsing with life…. Havana in the ‘50s…[the] territory of alcohol-drenched tropical noir tales of Graham Greene, Malcolm Lowry and W. Somerset Maugham, gets a strong jolt of Cuban coffee and good old American rock’n’roll… Sanchez manages to evoke a rich, vibrant Havana with its magical dreaminess fully intact.” —The News-Press (Florida)

“The writing of Thomas Sanchez is a lush display of the pain of truth and the power of integrity. King Bongo is a lyrical masterpiece of such potency that no glass bottle of ‘genre’ could ever contain its impact. Not to read this book is to suffer a self-inflicted wound of irreplaceable loss.” —Andrew Vachss

“Begins . . . with a real bang. [Sanchez] knows how to ignite a story and keep it burning.” —Detroit Free Press

“Intricately-plotted . . . full of surprises and vivid, often bizarre characters. There are echoes here of Dashiel Hammett and Graham Greene, but the music is Sanchez's own, and a captivating music it is, moving with the swift, syncopated rhythms of an Afro-Cuban dance.” —Phil Caputo

“Sanchez ably constructs a layered mystery. . . . [He] most successfully and sensitively evokes Havana when he probes the racial dynamics of pre-revolution Cuba.” —The Miami Herald

“Nasty cool. A terrific read—swift and grotesque, bursting with dark magic, humor and design.” —Joy Williams

“On the brink of revolution [Havana] proves as sinister a crossroads as any…each twist and turn introduces a new set of characters more outrageous than the last.” —San Antonio Express

“Powerful…spectacular…amazing.” –Howard Norman

“A surrealistic fairy tale of Havana, filled with strange and diverse characters. Sanchez’s novel can be read as a contemporary Shakespearean tragedy, and provides insight into a place and a time that is forever lost.” —Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“Sanchez's sleuth follows in the noble line of detectives in Dashiell Hammett's and Raymond Chandler's fiction. [King Bongo is] savvy and unsentimental, but he's vulnerable and highly emotional, a real latin lover.” —The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA)