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The Gods of Tango

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,612 ratings  ·  309 reviews
From one of the leading lights of contemporary Latin American literature—a lush, lyrical, deeply moving story of a young woman whose passion for the early sounds of tango becomes a force of profound and unexpected change.

February 1913: seventeen-year-old Leda, carrying only a small trunk and her father’s cherished violin, leaves her Italian village for a new home, and a ne
Hardcover, 367 pages
Published July 7th 2015 by Knopf
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Susan I would agree that there is a lot of sexual activity, brothel visits, and lesbian sexual activity so maybe not for grade 8 but some school parents may…moreI would agree that there is a lot of sexual activity, brothel visits, and lesbian sexual activity so maybe not for grade 8 but some school parents maybe more liberal(less)

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"The Argentine tango is very special to me because it's full of sensuality. The chemistry between the man and woman is absolutely stunning. "

----Gilles Marini

Carolina De Robertis, an Uruguayan author, pens a heart-touching and extremely poignant historical fiction in her new book, The Gods of Tango that unfolds the story of a young Italian woman who after finding out that her newly wed husband is dead, she decides to play tango music by dressing up as a man among the world of men in Argentina,
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
After De Robertis’s other books, The Invisible Mountain and Perla, this was disappointing. The premise is interesting enough: a young Italian woman, Leda, arrives in Buenos Aires in 1913, when immigration is booming and the tango is on its way up from the brothels to become an international sensation. With a passion for the violin and few options for supporting herself, Leda disguises herself as a man to play tango; she discovers her attraction to women but is hampered by the need for secrecy.

Apr 24, 2015 rated it liked it
The story of a woman – intelligent, talented and desperate – passing as a man is not new to literature. It’s a theme that’s been used over and over again: Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, The Outlaws of Sherwood, and Laird Hunt’s recent Neverhome, to name just a few.

It’s a testimony to my high regard for Carolina De Robertis that I still very much wanted to read Gods of Tango, where a young woman named Leda takes on a male identity to be able to perform the tango in 1913 Buenos Aires. The mytho
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to vicky. by: Adri

I'm crying tears of joy.

I've always wanted a book set in my country, Argentina, that celebrated our culture, that actually felt like I was here, with a good plot and interesting characters.
And The Gods of Tango delivered.

Not only it's as story about a transman and his exploration of his identity and gender and sexuality, but it's also about Buenos Aires in 1913 and immigration.
Those stories that I had to study for years at school and those stories that our grand-grandparents would tell to our p
----background music: anything tango or candombe----

Content warnings: incest, rape (including child sexual abuse), sexism, suicidal thoughts, infidelity, murder, loss of close family member, loss of spouse, outing, urolagnia (nonconsensual), racism, graphic sex, gunshot, shaming sex workers, light BDSM, f slur, mention of pregnancy loss (stillborn), past abortion, mention of past physical abuse

Were De Robertis’ words the ocean, I would forever bathe in it.

I went into this book thinking it was ab
Another fabulous novel! It will live on in my memory perhaps for as long as I live.

In 1913, Leda leaves her tiny Italian village for a new life in Argentina. Her cousin/fiance has been there for a couple years and has finally written for her to join him. The wedding ceremony has taken place in her village without him present and her mother is so angry with her for leaving that she will not even say goodbye. Oh, the terrible things we do to each other. In addition, Leda's best friend has recentl
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing

In 1913 Leda married her cousin Dante by proxy (his father stood in for him) and left her small town in Italy to be with him in Argentina. Upon arrival she finds he had been shot in an anarchist demonstration. This is the story of her luck and pluck as she seeks to make a life for herself. Music, tango music, is her passion and chosen profession.

Besides the story of Leda and descriptions of life in southern Italian towns and in the conventillos of Buenos Aires, the reader is introduced to the bi
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: uruguay
Why didn’t i like this? i never really cared about the likable but - what...boring? - protagonista. She never seemed to bravely choose, but rather be lead by the nose as she stumbled into her life. Ugh.

i loved this author's other 2 novels - although they both took awhile to catch my imagination. This one never did. There were moments of intensity (such as Alma’s surprising announcement), but they were so fleeting and seemed to wither on the vine. Ah well, guess i’ll go put on my Carlos Gardel CD
Meg - A Bookish Affair
4.5 stars. "The Gods of Tango" is the story of Italian immigrant Leda who comes to Argentina in the early 1900s. She is married to her cousin and when he suddenly dies, she is left alone in a city where she knows no one. She will have to carve out a life for herself in this brand new place. She is swept up in the tango music of the city, which isn't really open to women at the time. So she decides to live her life as a man, never telling anyone her secret, which could ruin her career. This is a ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
An exquisite book. One can hear the music in the writing. When finished, I simply stared out the window for a very long would have been impossible to do anything but hold the characters and their stories close to my heart.
Carolina De Robertis has profoundly touched my soul yet again 🥺

Buddy read with Hsinju!
Jessica Jeffers
A gender-bending tale set in early 20th century Argentina, it's a little weird to think that this book isn't really breaking all that much ground. It's visiting themes have been around at least since Shakespeare. But this one promised something new: the flavor or tango as an up-and-coming sensation.

I enjoyed Perla, the only other book I've read by Carolina De Robertis. That one also took place in Argentina, focusing on the Disappeared of the late 20th century. I had every intention of one day r
Bob H
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This remarkable, moving book evokes a time and places – Italy and Argentina in 1913 and later – in which women were confined in narrow roles, roles enforced violently at times. Yet Leda, using her wits and musical talent, disguises herself as Dante and proceeds to cross all boundaries of poverty, nationality, gender, class, sexual orientation, romance. The later-day “in the closet” doesn’t even begin to explain the times and the dangers. Discovery could be fatal, literally, so her rise through t ...more
de robertis is one of my favorite authors (for her The Invisible Mountain ) so don't expect my five stars to be universally five, especially as this novel does have frank plot of a young widow child passing as a man in order to make a living and not have to return home to her family in Italy, from her now city of buenos aires, nor have to turn herself out to pay rent, nor have to marry again (though perhaps never clearly reasoned why she didnt feel she could do this option) and then seeing how m ...more
Diane S ☔
Need to think about this one. Not sure whether to rate if three or four stars. The smells and sound are vividly portrayed. She captures the music, the essence of the tango and her writing is wonderful.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub-2018
Here are positive things that I can say about this book. I really enjoyed learning about the history of Tango. I found the characterization gender identity and sexuality well done. I just couldn't get into the author's style of writing. I generally don't think of myself as a fussy reader, I usually go with the flow as long as the I am getting something out of the book. However this author's 'lyrical' style of writing just rubbed me the wrong way. It was all tell tell tell with fancy descriptive ...more
I wanted to like this book. And I do. But... I really think it tries to do too much. The story of the tango is interesting - it's evolution in South America from African drums through the music of the lower class and brothels, and to the risqué dancing halls of the rich. Paralleling the changes in clientele is the change in instruments and their sound. It's a good story. I wouldn't mind a soundtrack to go along with the book. Maybe in the audio version?

Then there is the theme of the immigrant wo
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent satisfying book! I'm glad to come across this book not written by the usual lesfic authors. The story doesn't follow typical lesfic formula and progression. It revolves around love for tango music, evils of human, personal struggles and dreams. Overall, it's too good a book to miss! ...more
Murdered me. Ripped my heart out and stomped on it in all the best ways.
Charlotte Guzman
Jan 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written book that takes place in the early 1900's.
A story of Leda who goes from Italy to Argentina to make a life with her husband Dante. When she arrives she finds out he has been killed. She then becomes part of this large life in Buenos Aries and becomes a man to play the violin she inherited from her father. This new life swallows her up and she becomes Dante and lives the life she has wanted.
Highly sexual in content and beautifully written most of the time.
I loved the descr
May 11, 2021 rated it did not like it
DNF. I rarely ever dnf books but I just couldn’t get myself to finish this. I was so incredibly intrigued by the theme of the story BUT the writing style was absolutely not working for me. Constant repetition, too many details for no reason (I guess it was supposed to create an athmosphere but it left zero space for the readers imagination), and just the slowest plot progress ever. Sometimes phrases were repeated on the same page and it felt somehow unedited. I will probably delete this review s ...more
Short summary: In the early 20th century, Leda, a young Italian woman immigrates to Argentina to join her husband only to find out he had been killed before she arrived. She starts dressing up in his clothes and takes his name (Dante) to pass as a man in order to be able to live more freely, for instance by working as a tango musician. Living as a man, Dante begins to explore gender roles and identity as well as their own sexuality.
This is part of why I picked up this book, but unfortunately af
Aug 25, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a 2.5 star book for me with maybe a 3 for snippets of beautiful lyrical sentiments expressed and scattered through out the novel.

A disappointment since the premise of a young Italian woman/teenager coming to Argentina to start a family in the early 1900s is common enough of a theme -- immigration, desperation, diaspora, euphoria for a new beginning --- read about easily from the most basic books of Argentine/Rioplatense history. As a novel one expects to find more ... De Robertis does no
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have discovered a writer that can craft a sentence, a thought or a memory that can bring a tear to your eye. I know, when I finished the books, late last night, I wept at the intensity of how De Robertis describes lives that are lived in the shadows. This is an extraordinary book. It tells the tale of a young Italian girl, Leda, who is sailing to Buenos Aires to join her husband (that she married in proxy). From the moment she steps off the boat into the city teeming with immigrants, things be ...more
Dec 16, 2015 added it
I heard this local author being interviewed on the San Francisco public radio station and was intrigued. Oakland’s Carolina de Robertis has written the story of Leda, a 17-year old violinist who travels to Argentina from her native Italy in 1913. Arriving in Buenos Aires, she learns that Dante, the man she was arranged to marry, has died. As a woman in the patriarchal culture of the time, she cannot work. However, she was taught to play violin by her father and is carrying a historical instrumen ...more
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Took me two tries to finish the book. The language is outrageously lush and beautiful. It's all just one hypnotic song from one scene to the next. That's the strength and the weakness of the beginning of the book. The first half is beautifully and laboriously penned but the story does not move forward and it took a lot of effort to get to that point. Halfway through the book, I felt like finally, something's happening. That's when I gave up for a few weeks but the story stayed with me so I picke ...more
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My favourite quote from the book:

"But he sensed this girl was not as easily swayed. There was something desperate about her, and desperation, he knew, always went one of two ways. It could either make you pliable as water or make you a living weapon. This girl was not pliable. Already the city was honing her into a blade."

Beautifully written (the English translation) and presenting an interesting story. The author knew how to create suspense and mystery around the plot, even though at times the
Apr 04, 2015 rated it liked it
'The Gods of Tango" has a terrific premise and a disappointing execution. Set in turn of the 20th century Buenos Aires, a time when immigration from Europe and especially Italy was booming and the country was absorbing newcomers from all over the planet. Into this chaos and excitement, Leda arrives from Italy to marry a boy from her village.

The issue with the writing is that there's a lot of telling where there should be more showing. I never felt the connection with Leda or her choices, the thr
Wendy Cosin
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Set in early 1900's Italy and Argentina, The Gods of Tango is a light read that addresses serious subjects - immigration, gender identity, racism and child abuse. I particularly appreciated information on the origins of tango. The book is very much a fun read, even though some of the writing is a bit over-the-top.

The Book Launch party in Oakland included beautiful tango dancing and it was interesting to hear about the origins of the book and the research that went into it.

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Carolina De Robertis is the author of Perla and The Invisible Mountain, which was an international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, the recipient of Italy’s Rhegium Julii Prize, and a Best Book of 2009 according to the San Francisco Chronicle, O, The Oprah Magazine, and BookList. She is the translator of Alejandro Zambra’s Bonsai, which was just made into a feature film, and Roberto A ...more

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