Call Me Cassandra: Book summary and reviews of Call Me Cassandra by Marcial Gala

Call Me Cassandra

A Novel

by Marcial Gala

Call Me Cassandra by Marcial Gala X
Call Me Cassandra by Marcial Gala
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2022
    224 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

From Marcial Gala, the author of the award-winning The Black Cathedral, Call Me Cassandra is a darkly magical tale of a haunted young dreamer, born in the wrong body and time, who believes himself to be a doomed prophetess from ancient Greek mythology.

Ten-year-old Rauli lives in a world that is often hostile. His older brother is violent; his philandering father doesn't understand him; his intelligence and sensitivity do not endear him to the other children at school. He loves to read, especially Greek myths, but in Cuba in the 1970s, novels and gods can be dangerous. Despite the signs that warn Rauli to repress and fear what he is, he knows three things to be true: First, that he was born in the wrong body. Second, that he will die, aged eighteen, as a soldier in the Cuban intervention in Angola. And third, that he is the reincarnation of the Trojan princess Cassandra.

Moving between Rauli's childhood and adolescence, between the Angolan battlefield, the Cuban city of Cienfuegos, and the shores of ancient Troy, Marcial Gala's Call Me Cassandra tells of the search for identity amid the collapse of Cuba's utopian dreams. Burdened with knowledge of tragedies yet to come, Rauli nonetheless strives to know himself. Lyrical and gritty, heartbreaking and luminous, Rauli's is the story of the inexorable pull of destiny.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A haunting meditation on identity and violence." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The appearance of mythical beings during opportune times, Raúl's pitiless predictions, and the unfolding events of a fraught time in Cuban history contribute to the power of Gala's creative spin on an indelible myth and imaginative, memorable, and heartbreaking tale of identity and fatalism." - Booklist (starred review)

"[L]yrical and elegaic...not a whole lot happens. Still, Gala's prose, elegantly translated by Kushner, perfectly conveys the protagonist's dual realities. In the end, the author offers a singular invocation of immortality." - Publishers Weekly

"A spellbinding novel by one of the best writers of the Americas. Call Me Cassandra is Marcial Gala's masterpiece, blending Greek myth with the Cuban intervention in Angola. At the heart of this incandescent tale burns sensitive Rauli, caught between the Gods and the Revolution, between a body that he longs to escape and a world that lets no one like him escape. Call Me Cassandra is Chronicle of a Death Foretold but blacker and brilliantly better." - Junot Díaz, author of This is How You Lose Her

"I admire greatly the nimbleness of Marcial Gala's prose, the way his sentences swing effortlessly from emotional ruin to beauty to gallows hilarity and back again. As the storyline cuts between Rauli's childhood in Cienfuegos and his life as a soldier in Angola, a portrait of an unforgettable and defiant spirit emerges. Call Me Cassandra is a searching and uncompromising story about the vast complexities of displacement, the breathtaking power of the imagination, and the tidal pull of fate. I love this novel." - Laura van den Berg, author of I Hold a Wolf By the Ears

"It has been many years since I read a novel that excited me so much and so deeply. Marcial Gala surprises in the dexterity, audacity and elegance with which he articulates a very original fictional mechanism, creating a narrator who remembers the future as much as the past―but is condemned to have no one believe his predictions. Call Me Cassandra takes a brave and sensitive look at Cuba's participation in the Angolan civil war. If there are books that restore our faith in literature, and literature's ability to make the other known to us, this is one of them." - José Eduardo Agualusa, author of The Society of Reluctant Dreamers

This information about Call Me Cassandra shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Marcial Gala Author Biography

Photo: Ariel Grinberg

Marcial Gala was born in Havana in 1963. He is a novelist, a poet, and an architect and is a member of UNEAL, the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba. He won the Pinos Nuevos Prize for best short story in 1999. The Black Cathedral received the Alejo Carpentier Award for best novel in 2012 and the Critics' Award in 2012. He lives in Buenos Aires and Cienfuegos.

The Black Cathedral is translated by Anna Kushner.

Other books by Marcial Gala at BookBrowse
  • The Black Cathedral jacket
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