Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Heretics” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Mario Conde #8)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,398 ratings  ·  172 reviews
"Padura's Heretics spans and defies literary categories . . . Ingenious." --Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

A sweeping novel of art theft, anti-Semitism, contemporary Cuba, and crime from a renowned Cuban author, Heretics is Leonardo Padura's greatest detective work yet.

In 1939, the Saint Louis sails from Hamburg into Havana's port with hundreds of Jewish refugees seeking
Paperback, 544 pages
Published March 13th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Heretics, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Heretics

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,398 ratings  ·  172 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Heretics
Glenn Russell
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books

"My friend, the thing is that those kids don't believe in anything because they're not finding anything to believe in." Leonardo Padura, Heretics

Gran emoción en La Habana! Fans of Mario Conde are in for a treat. Heretics features the ex-cop’s rum-fueled saga dealing with a fist full of mysteries both in twenty-first century Havana and stretching back to seventeenth century Amsterdam.

As perhaps to be expected, Conde has all sorts of emotional support from Tamara, the women he loves, from his
Evi Routoula
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So happy that I found out about Leonardo Padura. This book includes three stories that are connected one with the other. From Poland of 1930s to Amsterdam of 1640s and to today Cuba. Full of historical events and questions about the meaning of life and the possibility of personal freedom in a society, in all societies through the years. Just wonderful!
Stephen Selbst
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the shell of a seemingly conventional mystery, Padura has written a bravura meditation about faith, freedom, free will and the nature of authoritarian repression. This is an ambitious book, and one that largely succeeds in its explorations. Padura also writes with great depth and sensitvity about European and New World Jewish culture. Finally, but by no means least, Heretics also provides commentary on present day Cuba, where most of the story is set. This was the most rewarding contemporary ...more
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leonardo Padura takes us on an intriguing journey related to the portrait of a young Jewish painted by Rembrandt. The novel is structured in three books that take place at different times in different locations.
The novel begins in Havana in 1939 when the young Daniel Kaminsky recently exiled in Cuba is waiting for the cruise ship MS St. Louis sailing from Germany with 937 Jews on board. The passengers are not allowed to disembark. The parents and sister of Daniel travel with Rembrandts painting
Jill Meyer
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cuban author Leonardo Padura has written an epic novel, "Heretics", that will either be loved or hated. Mine is a 5 star review, but I'll bet it will be balanced by 1 star reviews. It's a long novel, separated into three sections, and there's a thought that if you get to section 3, it might not come together, but, it does. And what an ending, tying everything that come before it into a wonderful bittersweet package.

"Heretics" is a sort of mish-mash of Jewish. Cuban, Dutch, and Polish history.
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literatura, history
This is an ambitious work in Padura's wonderful literary style. The story wraps up fascinating philosophical questioning on whatever god we believe in. From the god of the Bible to the god of communism , to the heresies it enthralls, the need is the same: the existence of a supernatural being, the desire to be protected by a strong force that will also free us from opression.

His vast knowledge on jewish history, Rembrandt's art and life, as well as XVII century's Amsterdam and cuban historical
World Literature Today
"Heretics, Padura’s evocation of contemporary Cuba, with its detailed networks of friends, lovers, and families, considers the effects of twenty years of hardship and the struggle to survive." - Elizabeth Fifer

This book was reviewed in the Sept/Oct 2017 issue of World Literature Today magazine. Read the full review by visiting our website:
Marcia Letaw
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel about freedom and the difficulty of achieving it by someone who knows what it is not to have freedom.
I highly recommend this novel for those who do not have a time machine to take them back to 17th century Netherlands, to walk around with Rembrandt, to overhear his conversations with friends and other artists, to understand his philosophy of painting and of life; indeed, Padura brings Rembrandt and his paintings to life with mere words on a page, such is his skill.
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
As one of my favourite writers a new Padura is a welcome event. In this case the title is much more substantial than previous Mario Conde novels. In fact it feels as though we are actually being given three novels in one. There are three interconnected stories here: one involving the disappearance of a painting; one about the massacre of Jews in the mid seventeenth century; and one concerning the disappearance of a young woman in Cuba. All are handled beautifully and as usual Havana is a ...more
Dimitris Patriarcheas
This a 3 stories in 1 great mix, really liked the 1st & 2nd part, though the 3rd is quite forced and weak to me. You get an exceptional 'painting' of the history and life in Cube as well as in the Netherlands during 17th century, a focus on the Jews and their story, a focus on Rembrandt and his living and finally a common pattern throughout the book about the meaning of acting freely and making choices, which could be presented in a more condensed way.
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Washington Post critic Ann Bardach comments that Padura's work is approaching that of Nobel Prize winners Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. I agree; although Padura's work differs from theirs, the quality of the writing and plot development is outstanding. This was my first encounter with Padura. Heretics is a rich, textured, literary, historical, detective novel. All that and more.
Oct 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great stories but a book that we seem to have already read several times
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Padura’s latest novel’s theme is in its title; and the sweeping continent and century crossing narrative is filled with heretics, meaning those who doubt, differ, search for meaning, reject someone’s dogma, or just stand apart.

The novel is presented in thirds. The first third is set in Cuba in 1939, the year the Saint Louis anchors in Havana harbor without being able to dock and disembark its 937 Jewish refugees; 1958, the year when one of the characters, David Kaminsky, suddenly flees Cuba for
Fran Hawthorne
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
At 525 pages, covering 350 years from 17th century Poland and the Netherlands, to the eroding Castro era in Cuba, "Heretics" is an ambitious, fascinating, thought-provoking, sometimes page-turning, but flawed novel. It's as though author Leonardo Padura had combined the half-jaded Cuban detective Mario Conde of his popular "Havana Gold" quartet, with Ivan Karamazov from the Grand Inquisitor section of "The Brothers Karamazov," and with "Pogrom," Steven J. Zipperstein's new nonfiction book about ...more
Michael Rieman
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel, moving in time between the twenty-first and seventeenth centuries, touches on extraordinary themes framed within what could have been a conventional subject, a search for a missing Rembrandt painting.
Actual circumstances of history provide compelling grounding for the story. In 1939, the passenger ship St. Louis, carrying many refugees from Nazi Europe, dropped anchor in Havana. Some passengers were able to leave the ship, but the majority were turned away,left to sail back to
Larry Olson
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heretics is a masterful historical novel by Cuban writer, Leonardo Padura. He is best known for writing crime novels and while his recurring character, Mario Conde is very much present, this work cuts a wide swath across Poland in the 1600s, Havana and Europe in the 1930s, Havana in the 1950s, America in the 1980s, as well as more modern-day Havana. Conde and a wonderful cast of supporting characters, focus on the issue of our right as individuals to exercise our freedom. Conde is fantastic — a ...more
Potter Wickware
Leonardo Padura, Heretics, FSG 2013
Solid setup: Mario Conde, anti-hero detective, joins Daniel Kaminsky who's facing an intractable challenge that combines art, history, religion, family and personal identity set against an exotic background. Every so often a good, clear readable passage comes along, like the biographical sketch of Rembrandt, or the discussion of the proposition that Germans aspire to a state of Jewishness, of being a chosen people legitimized by law and tradition. Those
Ana Maria
First book I read from Leonardo Padura and I can say he is a gifted writer but this book could have benefited from some aggressive editing. It is just too verbose and too full of deep historical data that could have been condensed. It took me forever to finish the book because I could only handle so much ar a time. Mario Conde is a very interesting and likable character. The beginning of the book in Havana was great and I learned a lot about the Jewish community and events regarding the infamous ...more
Eileen Sainsbury
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all those interested in the complicated history of the Jewish people
Shelves: books-i-liked
I enjoyed this book, although it was perhaps a little too long. It certainly took me a long time to read, partly because I was reading the Danish version, and also because the story is very powerful, and Padura has certainly done a lot of research. I had to take a break after the first part, but am glad that I continued to read the rest later. Padura is one of my favourite authors. The story of the St Louis and the refusal to allow the passengers to disembark in Havana, and the refusal of both ...more
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable novel about the ill-fated ship S.S. St. Louis carrying 937 Jews from Germany in 1939 bound for Cuba. Reminiscent of the carrier Exodus, passengers are not allowed to disembark at the end of their journey. It is partly a tale about Jewish emigrants everywhere who seek to acclimate. But, really, it's the story of the quest for a mysterious painting, a portrait of a young Jew, that has been in the Kaminsky family for generations and has now resurfaced at Sotheby's of all places. A ...more
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read all Conde Books I found this book quite different from the previous ones.It is a difficult book in the sense that you can not read it in a fast pace as although you expect a police procedure book you find four different levels of soul searching,deep understanding and acceptance of various characters who despite being heretics they
have their own way of thinking,behaving and expressing themselves within the social environment and epoch they live.
A highly enjoyable book recommended to
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Leonardo Padura's Heretics is a phenomenal book that explores what it means to be considered a heretic to your religion, culture, or people at different times and different places. At times historical fiction, a gritty-crime novel, and an exploration of the meaning of freedom and identity in an ever-struggling Cuba, Padura's work has something to offer everyone as he weaves his story of pain separation, and freedom through three different centuries and two continents. Brimming with real ...more
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 somewhat intertwined stories from the 17th, 20th and 21st centuries--at times it felt like reading 2 different novels (hard to tell if that's the translator or if the translator accurately reproduced the different narrative styles). The majority of the book occurs in Cuba with compelling scenarios of everyday life from Batista to now. But one chunk takes place in Rembrandt's Amsterdam, and focuses on a Jewish apprentice who is forbidden by religious law from painting. It all links up. As usual ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At 520 pages, this was about 300 pages too long, despite an interesting story being buried in a rambling telling. Middle-aged Havana ex-cop, Mario Conde, assists trying to track down a Rembrandt painting last seen on board the St Louis in Havana harbour in 1939. Young Daniel Kaminsky was sent to Cuba ahead of his doomed family and his life story is told by his son, searching for the Rembrandt, before the tale of its creation and another of the death of an emo in Havana. So why finish reading?
Steve Erickson
This might be too ambitious for its own good. The section near the end set about 10 years ago (when Padura began writing the book) featuring detective Mario Conde (the protagonist of 7 other Padura novels) investigating Havana's emo subculture feels shoehorned in. The subject of Jewish identity gets lost, and it overdoes the "hey kids, get off my lawn" attitude - some of this is funny and for a North American, it's interesting to read it from the POV of a Cuban boomer who loves the Beatles and ...more
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant, well-researched, multi-faceted story based on the fateful voyage of the war-time ship St. Louis and the tragedy that befell its Jewish passengers and a small masterpiece by Rembrandt. Padura seamlessly weaves this epic across centuries, from modern day Havana to 16th century Amsterdam and back again. And it’s Mario Conde at his best as he tries to unravel the mystery of what happened to the painting, pulling him into the lives of those affected by the events of the paintings fate. I ...more
An epic of four intertwined stories, related to the portrait of a young Jewish man painted by Rembrandt. Historical fiction, crime novel, philosophical treatise - from the SS Saint Louis docked in Cuba in 1939, to 17th Century Amsterdam (the New Jerusalem of the Sephardic Jews, to modern day Cuba and to 17th century Poland. A treatise on freedom of choice vs. religious/cultural rules, on loss and greed, and on the repeated persecution of Jews in Europe. And the bonus, the reader gets a glimpse ...more
Emily Schneider
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing read that submits itself to the exploration of the voracious human spirit. Leonardo Padura maintains historical and artistic precision that details the life of Rembrandt Van Rijn in the 17th century Netherlands and the desperate migration of Jews to Havana, Cuba during World War II. The intertwining narratives, though, from different centuries provide a fruitful and pleasing to read novel.

I would highly recommend.
Phil Brett
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Enjoyed it. Especially the chapters set in Havana. Thought the 'why are you an emo in Cuba' parts quite interesting. I didn't like it as much as The Man who Loved Dogs and found the middle section rather lethargic. But then, I love The Man Who, considering it a classic. Also, this is a book which deserves attention and time to savour the narrative but due to work pressures I could only snatch the odd page to read every other day.
Ann Tonks
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netherlands, cuba, jews, art, poland
What an extraordinary novel. As such, it's hard to know where to start and what to say. It's wonderful visiting the Cuban world of Mario Conde. But it's also wonderful to explore the lives of the all the Jewish characters (whether by blood or name) as they live across centuries and continents. It's a story of those who don't fit in as well as those who find a way to live in opposition to the mainstream. A sprawling, fascinating book.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Το μαύρο Αλγέρι (Paco Martinez, #1)
  • Σκηνές από τον βίο του Ματίας Αλμοσίνο
  • Lluvia fina
  • La Gesta del Marrano
  • A Tale of Love and Darkness
  • La fiesta del Chivo (Primeros capítulos)
  • Leite Derramado
  • Fouché
  • La ciudad de los prodigios
  • Horses of God
  • Olinka
  • Los casos del comisario Croce
  • The Anatomy of a Moment: Thirty-Five Minutes in History and Imagination
  • Written Lives
  • Ordesa
  • Η κόκκινη Μασσαλία (Paco Martinez, #2)
  • Solea
  • Chourmo
See similar books…
Leonardo Padura Fuentes (born 1955) is a Cuban novelist and journalist. As of 2007, he is one of Cuba's best known writers internationally. In English and some other languages, he is often referred to by the shorter form of his name, Leonardo Padura. He has written movie scripts, two books of short stories and a series of detective novels translated into 10 languages. In 2012, Fuentes was awarded ...more

Other books in the series

Mario Conde (9 books)
  • Havana Blue
  • Havana Gold
  • Havana Red
  • Havana Black
  • Adios Hemingway
  • Havana Fever
  • La cola de la serpiente
  • La transparencia del tiempo
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“A través de su agencia de viajes, Benítez llegó a vender unos cuatro mil permisos de entrada en Cuba, a ciento cincuenta pesos cada uno, lo que generó la fabulosa ganancia de seiscientos mil pesos de la época, una plata con la cual debió de mojarse mucha gente, quizás hasta el mismo Batista, a cuyas manos iban a dar todos los hilos que movieron al país desde su Rebelión de los Sargentos de 1933 hasta su bochornosa huida en la primera madrugada de 1959.” 0 likes
“Los embarcados en el transatlántico, por supuesto, no podían aportar aquellas sumas. Al abandonar suelo alemán, a los presuntos turistas solo se les había permitido salir con una maleta de ropa y diez marcos, equivalentes a unos cuatro dólares.” 0 likes
More quotes…