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4.62  ·  Rating details ·  81 ratings  ·  42 reviews
"Cantoras is a stunning lullaby to revolution--and each woman in this novel sings it with a deep ferocity. Again and again, I was lifted, then gently set down again--either through tears, rage, or laughter. Days later, I am still inside this song of a story."--Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author

From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of The Gods
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
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4.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  81 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in long time. It’s triumphant and devastating, it’s optimistic and heart-breaking, and then manages to cover just about every emotion in between. The story starts off in 1977 in Montevideo, Uruguay, where five women come together to form the beginnings of friendship. A week-long trip to Cabo Polonia, a small village on the coast north of Montevideo, connects them to each other and the village in a way that city living never could.

Of the five wome
Lupita Reads
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review coming soon but hands down top five favorite of this year!!!
Diane S ☔
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor-2019
Freedom. In 1970s Uruguay,freedom was not to be found. Called the process, the country was under a brutal dictatorship, a system that cared little for innocence or guilt. A system that took, people, rights, joy and made them disappear. For the five women in this story this wasn't the only type of freedom not available to them, they also did not have the freedom to love whom they wanted. Their same sex desire must be kept hidden at all costs. They were Cantoras.

They find a place in an isolated co
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cantoras is the second book that I’ve read by this author, The Gods of Tango being the first and that one took me two tries to finish because both stories are heavy reading. Cantoras, which is the Spanish word for female singers and old timey slang for Lesbians, is a telling of five women who discover each other the way women do, by a glance, certain body language, or via a few choice remarks. They’re very young and desperate to breathe and be who they imagine themselves to be. But this is the 1 ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: because I can't resist
I was late to a scheduled podcast recording Sunday because I just had to finish this book first. It is beautifully written about five women living in Uruguay, building a found family to live as who they really are, despite dictators, trauma, and fear. Some of the story comes from research the author did on the first LGBTQ+ spaces in Uruguay, not in the city but on the very edge of the country between ocean and sand dunes. The five women in the novel buy a shack that becomes their escape. Each ch ...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely breathtaking narrative, truly special! This is a story about five women as they become friends, form relationships, and become chosen family along the way. Set against the backdrop of the Uruguayan dictatorship, this is part coming of age and part learning to thrive amidst a society that condemned their existence. Before they had the words to articulate their sexual identify, they gave themselves the name “Cantoras.”

I am immensely grateful to @lupita.reads for putting this beautifu
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is fabulous and I learned so much by reading it. This historical fiction is about 5 queer women ( Flaca, Romina, Anita - La Venus, Malenia and Paz) who meet under various situations and decide to travel to this beach called Cabo Polonio. This beach becomes there refuge during a volatile time in Uruguay. Over the course of many years (teens to older adults), they see things change not only in Uruguay but on the beach they claimed as their own in early adulthood. Lovers come and go, but ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I remember the days, here in the U.S., where being gay meant being ostracized, and most people kept it a secret, much to the disadvantage of their psychological health. There are still some corners of America that remain in the Dark Ages, despite the new laws allowing gay people to marry. But in Uruguay, during the fascist dictatorship of the 70s, coming out of the closet meant getting arrested, tortured, sexually violated, and often “disappeared.” And women couldn’t gather more than four togeth ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A novel written by a Uruguayan-born author inspired by five queer women who discovered a sanctuary on the coast in a sanctuary called Cabo Polonio doesn’t exactly have the best-seller label all over it.

But when the author is Carolina de Robertis – the author of the outstanding book Perla – and the women represent any one of us who yearn for a feeling of safety, home and family, the book cries out to be read.

For anyone who loves books that ask the question, “What does it take to be human?”, my a
Karen (idleutopia_reads)
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don’t have the book in front of me so this is all coming from memories and feelings I still have for this book. It’s been a few weeks and I miss Paz, Flaca, Romina, Malena, La Venus, and Cabo Polonio so much. It truly feels like I left part of myself on the pages of this book and there is a part of them that have left an indelible mark. The book starts with a trip to this island that changes and forges a friendship that will last ages. The writing of this book is so atmospheric. It truly made ...more
Bonnie Brody
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am not a Spanish speaking person so I hope my usage of 'encontrar' is correct. It refers to discovering or encountering, one of the major themes of this book, in opposition to the political background of a coup. People disappeared in Uruguay after the coup, and in Argentina at about the same time. They are known as 'the disappeared' - desaparecidos. Uruguay, once a relatively peaceful country changed in around 1973, after the presidential coup. It became a dictatorship, and censorship of all s ...more
Mary Lins
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: complete
“Cantoras” by Carolina De Robertis, brings us the story of five young lesbians (“cantoras”): Flaca, Romina, Anita (La Venus), Paz, and Malena, in Uruguay in the 1970s and 80s as the country struggles under a brutal dictatorship. It’s a story of long-term friendships and how they change/don’t change over time.

The novel begins with the five women camping on a beach on a remote peninsula called Cabo Polonio, which is a real place (photographed on the cover) that later became a haven for queer peopl
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
She's done it again, folks 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book will definitely be in my Top 3 books of the year for 2019
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: galleys, glbt
Almost all the early reviews I have seen for this book have been glowing reviews referring to this book as a masterpiece. I love books about queer people from perspectives that I have maybe never had access to or whose lives have never been written before. I don't know that I'd go as far as masterpiece for this book, but the writing was lovely and the characters were sympathetic, though something somewhere didn't hold my interest. This was more of a 3 1/2 star book for me.
This book follows five
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Five women gather on an Atlantic beach in Uruguay at the beginning ofCantoras, by Carolina de Robertis, to fully relax for the first time in their lives in the summer of 1977. Flaca, La Venus, Romina, Malena, and Paz are celebrating a two fold escape. The first thing they are escaping is El Proceso—a dictatorship that held the country in an iron grip from 1973 to 1985. They don’t all know that they’ve made their second escape until they start to open up and talk to each other. By the end of the ...more
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
With the Uruguayan coup d'etat of 1973 as the backdrop, this novel tells the story of a group of women who come together to form an insular community that promises to protect its members during the worst years of the dictatorship of Uruguay. I was intrigued by the story, as it touches on aspects of history I always find fascinating. But overall, the book is not really for those interested in political history. It's main driver is the examination of how individual lives are affected by matters of ...more
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mental-health, queer
Reading CANTORAS was like finding a light switch after years of learning how to walk in the dark. How this book would've changed my life at 15, 16, 17... although at 27, clinging to a raft of queer community through the myriad structural violences, this book was both a roadmap and an embrace. Its foundation in the lived experiences of queer Uruguayan AFAB folx serves as a reminder that our survival isn't the stuff of fiction - it is our history, our inheritance.
Arja Salafranca
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
‘What it might mean, what it could possibly mean, for a woman to look at another woman that way.’

Let me say at once that I loved this sprawling novel, becoming lost in the story, and captured by women in it. Cantoras refers to singers in Spanish, but it is also slang for women who love women.

The novel opens in 1977 when Uruguay is under the rule of a military government and there’s a fear throughout the country – a fear that produces a chilling downtrodden fear in its people. Citizens are arres
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First of all, I got this book in exchange for an honest review from Random House through Edelweiss, so thank you!

I finished this book about four days ago, and was just sitting with it. It took me on a ride, like one I never been before. Why?
- It's set in Uruguay. During the dictactorship.
I know a lot about the Brazilian dictatorship, I know a bit about Latin America's dictatorships, but I never read a story entirely set in it.
It was amazing - and heartbreaking - reading a book about this time i
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Flaca, Anita ( mostly known as La Venus), Malena, Romina, and Paz. Five women, five women living in Uruguay during the harsh dictatorship in the late 70’s, five queer women living in Uruguay trying to just be themselves in a dangerous climate surrounded by a militaristic government that they must narrowly skate by carefully keeping their true selves at bay within their own home. They find each other, they find love, friendship, family, and a secluded cape called Cabo Polonio that becomes a haven ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This beautiful book about five women in Uruguay is one of the most unique narratives I've ever read.

It is 1977 and Uruguay is in the holds of a military dictatorship. Five city women, looking for a break from the stifling confines of city life, are brought together through various means. They travel as a group to Cabo Polonia, a deserted beach town on the coast. By the end of the week, the five of them have formed a bond that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Though their circumstanc
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss.

This beautiful, moving story follows five queer women living under the military dictatorship in 70s/80s Uruguay and is a lovesong to the resilience of queer community and chosen family. Although I'm constantly reading queer literature, Cantoras ('women who sing', slang for women loving women) was like nothing I've ever read before. I was surprised to realise how little I see stories focused on the enduring relationships between groups of queer w
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis is a book set in 1977 Uruguay about five queer women who call themselves Cantoras. They find a sanctuary under a military dictatorship in Uruguay and visit their sanctuary many times. It’s a sanctuary that doesn't look like much but it’s everything to these cantoras because they are allowed to be themselves.

When I read a book, I always have one or two favorite characters but all the characters are my favorite. Each woman is different and brings something to the
Deedi (DeediReads) Brown
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
All my reviews live at

Without hesitation: Cantoras is a masterpiece of a novel. It’s brimming with humanity, turmoil, heart (of both the -warming and -breaking variety), hope, and beauty. I’m about to recommend it to everyone I know who reads literary fiction, because it’s just that good.

The story begins in 1977 Uruguay, under the dictatorship. In that time and place, it was dangerous to leave the house, dangerous to meet in groups, dangerous to speak your mind,
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
100 out of 5 stars. Quite literally the book I've been waiting for. I've been asking the universe for YEARS for a book about queer women that spans decades of their lives--different stories, different personalities, but women who care for each other and build a family. I thought I was going to have to write this myself but De Robertis has done it for me, and in a way that is so much more heartfelt and interesting than I could have ever pulled off. You can tell she's done her research here--and s ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must admit, I've been a fan of Robertis since her novel Gods of Tango. Robertis's Cantoras once again takes us to South America. This time to Uruguay. The novel focuses on five "cantoras" (lesbians), who form a family of friends during the dictatorship in that country in 1977. They establish a refuge in Cabo Polonio, a small beach/fishing outpost, by pooling their monies to buy a shack on the beach. Robertis follows the lives of these five--their friends, lovers, and families--through the year ...more
I read Cantoras because it was highly recommended by my good friend and fellow bookstagrammer @LupitaReads, and it did not disappoint! The exquisitely written novel broke my heart more than once, but the friendship of these fierce female friends was extraordinary and resilient - especially during some of their most difficult moments. I applaud and bow to De Robertis for writing such an original and heart-rending novel. I highly recommend it -especially if you're interested in strong female prota ...more
Sep 07, 2019 rated it liked it
BOOK REVIEW: ‘Cantoras,’ by Carolina de Robertis

This novel follows the lives of five women, starting in their early twenties into late adulthood. These ‘cantoras’ work through a society in Uruguay where they fear for their lives and freedoms knowing women are in danger just being in groups. It details their paradise, and their journeys.

There were times when I LOVED this book, and moments I felt less involved with the characters. I’d say I loved 80%, but certain extraneous characters and time per
Shelby Lynne
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book I wanted to devour and savor, that healed me and wholed me even as it broke me to pieces, a book that gentled my soul, that left prickles of gooseflesh along my spine as I finished the final lines.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please correct page count - Cantoras 2 10 Sep 15, 2019 03:26PM  
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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