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King of Cuba

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  477 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Told with wry wit and keen insight, this entertaining and richly satisfying story about a fictionalized Fidel Castro and an octogenarian Cuban exile obsessed with seeking revenge against the dictator—from the National Book Award finalist and author of Dreaming in Cuban.

Vivid and alive, Cristina García’s new novel transports readers to Cuba, to Miami, and into the heads of
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 21st 2013 by Scribner (first published May 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.37  · 
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Diane S ☔
Apr 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: roadrallyteamb
This is a very witty take on Castro and his revolution, now an old man, living in his memories and his past glories. Reminiscing about the revolution when he was so beloved of his people. His wives, his mistresses, Che, how he settled hunger strikes, his magnetic personality, Batista and much more. Everything we learn about Cuba's past is through his memories.

Goya, an 86 yr. old man, living in Miami, has hated Castro all these years, much of his ranch in Cuba had been taken for redistribution w
Oct 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
DNF. Sorry, I can't do it anymore. Just dumb and lame.
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it

Thank you Scribner Books for sending me an advanced copy of this book.

In 1956, Fidel Castro launched the Cuban Revolution to replace Fulgencio Batista with a communist regime and to secure ties with the Soviet Union. This larger-than-life revolutionary, who began life as the illegitimate son of a middle class sugar cane farmer, became one of the most controversial figures in history, credited by some as having destroyed Cuba, by others as saving the country from the demon of capitalism. His viol
Ted Lehmann
Apr 06, 2013 added it
Shelves: abandoned
I'm not going to rate this book because I think it might be someone else's cup of rum. It's a novel concerning an anonymous but thinly disguised Cuban dictator now in old age and a Cuban emigre living in Miami. The character from Miami has only one goal in mind...outliving el Conquistador. It's written in a mordantly funny and pretty scatological voice which made me laugh a few times, but didn't interest me enough to finish reading it. I read 18% of it in a electronic galley provided by Edelweis ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
It was funny, ribald and refreshing at the beginning but nothing develops or changes, and I was skimming by the end.
John Thorndike
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it

I’m biased. Almost anything about Cuba fascinates me, and Cristina Garcia has become the definitive chronicler of both Cuba and Cuban exiles.

Garcia’s approach to plot and narration is sometimes a trial. She doesn’t like a single point of view, but wanders through time and many characters. This worked perfectly in Dreaming in Cuban, but in The Lady Matador’s Hotel I thought it gave the book a skittish feel.

I appreciate, in King of Cuba, Garcia’s new-found discipline in telling the story almost
Paul Pessolano
May 06, 2013 rated it liked it
“King of Cuba” by Cristina Garcia, published by Scribner.

Category – Fiction/Literature Publication Date – May 21, 2013

El Comandante in this book is none other than Fidel Castro. Let there be no mistake about it and you can sugar coat in any way you want to but the book is about him.

“King of Cuba” will have as its main reader’s people of Cuban descent that live in the Miami area and are refugees of the Fidel Castro Cuba, especially those who still dream of returning to their homeland.

The book rev
Sep 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Like the particular pair of old men it features, "King of Cuba" is somewhat slow to get going and meandering once it starts up. There are enough entertaining bits along the way to keep on going until the plot piddles out in an oddly quick wrap up. Mostly, it doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it a Rushdie-eqsue revisionist magical realism political novel, or a Hiaasanian Floridian comedy? I like both of these things, but "King of Cuba" is unsatisfactorily both and neither.

Not a complaint, but
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Garcia is a master storyteller, and all of her work is worth reading. I thoroughly enjoyed this fictional imagining of a thinly veiled Fidel Castro's last days. The narrative is paralleled with a vengeful, aging Cuban exile provided plenty of humor and profundity. I did read this as Garcia's response to her earlier works, mostly Dreaming in Cuban and Aguero Sisters. The minor characters appeared in foot-noted narratives, a move similar to Junot Diaz's novel _Oscar Wao_. Literary nerds will love ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Sadly, I was very disappointed.
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cuba
Not nearly as good as Dreaming Cuban. Plot was jumbled, characters not likeable, etc.
El Commandante is aging in his mansion in Havana, while a Cuban exile in Miami plots (in his mind) against him. Most anything about Cuba I devour since traveling there; this combination a great tour de force, especially since Castro had died not all that long before our visit. a few parts I especially noted:
speaking of Castro (whose endless speeches were legendary), and then of the ubiquitous image of Che (which we saw everywhere in Cuba): "Of all his infirmities, the incessant choking bothered
John Vanderslice
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really good novel. Garcia got a lot of deserved press for it. It's sort of a dark comedy about Castro and those Cuban exiles in the U.S. who despised him. As she says in book club questions that follow the novel (in my edition), Castro and those who intensely hate him are like two sides of the same coin. Certainly true of the characters in her book. Very interesting structure to the novel as well, with two competing narratives interrupted by a chorus of (fictional) voices: Various Cubans lamenti ...more
I bought this book, amongst others, as I was going on holiday to Cuba. While I would not characterise it as a bad book, overall it was tough going. It helps when you realise that the connection with reality is tenuous at best, although quite strong in overall tone: events described might have happened, people described could have existed, they just didn't.

Writing style is effective in bringing the central two characters to life and flows reasonably, if it does wander down the occasional meaningl
Justin Morrison
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
The book "King of Cuba" is about two larger than life men, Fidel Castro living in Cuba and a man exiled from Cuba, living in Miami and wanting revenge on Cuba's dictator. In the book Fidel Castro thinks about the end of his life after his 60 year old revolution. In Miami, the exile named Goyo Herrera plots to get revenge on his long time rival, Fidel Castro. Goyo blames Fidel for stealing his beloved, killing his father and ruining Cuba, his homeland. The book shows different perspectives of Cub ...more
Jenny Butler
Jun 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
I read this book as an assignment for a college course. I would have abandoned it early on if I had chosen it myself. I appreciated learning more about the history of Cuba, but I did not enjoy reading the stories of the two main characters. I found both of them to be extremely unlikable without redeeming qualities. The minor characters were also unlikable or not developed enough to make a difference to me as the reader. Perhaps the only character I felt any empathy for was Rudy, the Great Dane w ...more
Brett Martinez
Dec 13, 2017 rated it liked it
King of Cuba is a fascinating read about two main characters in Goyo and El Comandante ( who is obviously Fidel Castro). Goyo is a Cuban exile whose only purpose for living is to kill the Cuban tyrant. It is truly fascinating. The only thing I dislike is that in each chapter there are these vignettes about a random character. To me they do not have much to do with the story. However, the story flowed well and really highlighted the passion that many Cuban exiles have in their hatred of Castro an ...more
David Garcia
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Yikes. Very hard time finding things to like with this effort. Being a first generation Cuban and lover of anything to do with history, culture, info etc I just couldn’t find a character to like or even feel empathy. The satire was lost on me unfortunately. The unusual character traits just left me feeling annoyed. Try Dreaming in Cuba and leave this one alone.
Heather Fineisen
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it
A parody of the practices and assassination attempts surrounding Castro. His brother plays a central part in the upcoming birthday celebrations. There is reenactment of the Bay of Pigs that turns into a Producer like entertainment. Goyo, an elderly exiled Cuban living in Florida, plots to kill the tyrant. Told with wit and colorful images.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a strange book and having read many of the reviews I didnt have great hopes for it!

Neither of the two main characters is very likeable (really they are two sides of the same coin) and they do not endear themselves to the reader at any point in the book.

Having said that, I did actually enjoy the book although its hard to pinpoint exactly why!
Jun 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
I skimmed the last third of this book because the two main characters remained the same creepy old jerks they were in the beginning. There was minimal plot to pull me along; they both die ingloriously in an assassination attempt. I regret wasting time on this book.
Nancy Nason
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A story about a fictionalized Fidel Casto and an exile who lives in Florida.
Tyler Burns
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
You can check out my review here:
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
First book read in the new year by an author new to me...a win-win!
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
took me all summer to read. never really got into it.
Maria Aliferis-Gjerde
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wasn't able to get into this book.
Richard Bull
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Amusing premise but weak ending
Nancy McKibben
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers who enjoy learning about other cultures; readers who like humor
Shelves: reviewed
King of Cuba
Cristina Garcia

This is the first time I have read anything by Garcia, already a well-established author whose works focus on Cuba and Cubans. In this novel, the aged Fidel Castro (referred to throughout as El Commandante) slouches around the island wondering where the Revolution, in which he still fiercely believes, has gone astray. His counterpart in Miami, aged Cuban exile Goyo Herrera, blames all the ills of his life on Castro.
There was no one in the world he loathed more, no o
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I received a free copy of this book in a First Reads giveaway.

Overall it was okay, but I wish there had been more of a plot and a more cohesive way to include the "other voices" into the story.

The book mainly switches back and forth between two main characters: El Comandante (who I believe is supposed to be a Castro-esque character) and Goyo, a Cuban exile who hates El Comandante both for what he did to his beloved homeland in general and to someone he loved in particular. There are other voices
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After working for Time Magazine as a researcher, reporter, and Miami bureau chief, García turned to writing fiction. Her first novel, Dreaming in Cuban (1992), received critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has since published her novels The Agüero Sisters (1997) and Monkey Hunting (2003), and has edited books of Cuban and other Latin American literature. Her fourth ...more

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“Without the U.S. embargo, the Revolution couldn't have survived. It'd needed a common enemy to blame for its economic ills. In the end consumerism, not guns would destroy Socialism. Microwaves and computers, motorcycles, iPhones, Omaha Steaks.” 0 likes
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