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The Gods of Tango

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,378 ratings  ·  272 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,
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
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.

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
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
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
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
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
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
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!
Murdered me. Ripped my heart out and stomped on it in all the best ways.
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 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
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.

May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ever hear of the musician Billy Tipton? This is how he might have lived if he'd been an Italian immigrant in Argentina in the early 20th century. This historical fiction is lyrical, lesbian, timely, trans and brilliant. Grab it.
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
Barbara Ridley
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Leda, a young immigrant woman arrives in Argentina in 1913, and discovers that Dante, the husband she was to meet, has been murdered. She is welcomed with kindness by his friends, and her parents send her money for her return voyage to her small Italian village when they learn of her circumstances, but she has a yearning for adventure, and wants to stay. But what she really wants is to learn the violin and play the tango with street musicians, an option not open to women. So she decides to take ...more
Ginny Harland
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'M UPSET!! This was the most wonderful queer story that I've read in a long, long time.

The writing was gorgeous, the characters were incredible and thoughtfully developed, the relationships - even with minor characters - were so vivid and real, whether harsh or tender, that I was left wondering about what had happened to other characters' lives long after their role had ended in the story.

It is a lovely exploration of identity - with sexuality, with gender, with family, with a sense of place an
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I came by this book serendipitously. I was sitting in the school library, looked up, and without the benefit of glasses only saw the word tango. Upon closer inspection it was clear that this book needed to come home with me.

And I enjoyed its stay in my home. The story is solid, the historical research behind it is well done. What I can't quite come around is the prose style. Descriptions of places are sufficient, but descriptions of emotions and actions are incomplete. Sex and desire are central
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i think i could read 100 books about cross-dressing music lesbians and i'd never get tired of them.

i wasn't sure what to expect going in, but "the gods of tango" is a fast-paced, hard-to-put down novel with fiery romance and affairs and a protagonist who struggles with their identity and keeping it a secret. many parts of the story resonated deeply with me. despite not saying much, leda/dante was an enjoyable protagonist who i rooted for the entire time, and whose happy ending felt hard-earned
Kim Barton
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it

It was a lovely story about a woman Leda who, alone in a new city, begins to dress like a man so she can play the tango. I enjoyed reading about Buenos Aires and learning about the city and the immigrants who moved there. The story of the struggle of Leda becoming Dante was beautifully done, even giving the reader some of the details of how a woman can infiltrate a man's world.

The reason I didn't love it was because I felt like the soaring prose about how the tango and the music were life i
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt, favorites, 2017
Meet my new favourite book. Utter perfection.
this was a 3.5 read for me
thoughts coming shortly
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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

Articles featuring this book

Jacqueline Woodson seems to have been born to be a writer. Even as a young child, she would write constantly.
42 likes · 6 comments
“Music, arrow to pierce all barriers. Music, the great equalizer. Music, invader of centuries. Nectar of demons, whiskey flask of God.” 2 likes
“He does not look at the dancers, does not acknowledge her, sitting and staring. He is steeped in a private aural world. He drew out longer notes than her papa ever had; he was more forceful with the bow; she hadn't known the violin contained such wildness. She was reminded of the tarantella, which skipped along its notes and pulled you upward; out of yourself, come and play! But these pieces, these tangos, didn't only lift; they also plunged you downward, deep inside yourself, to the unexamined corners of your heart. Come, they whispered, come and look, see what's here and dance with it, this is music too.” 2 likes
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