The Man Who Loved Dogs: Book summary and reviews of The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura

The Man Who Loved Dogs

by Leonardo Padura

The Man Who Loved Dogs
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2014
    592 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

A gripping novel about the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico City in 1940

In his youth, Iván Cárdenas Maturell was the great promise of modern Cuban literature. But after Iván dared to write a story that was deemed counterrevolutionary, he suffered the consequences and became not just a loser but a defeated man. After two years of obligatory social service, Iván returns to Havana and takes a job editing a veterinary magazine. One afternoon, he meets a mysterious foreigner in the company of two Russian wolfhounds, whom he quickly names "the man who loved dogs."

Their initially superficial exchanges eventually lead to more heartfelt conversations in which Iván discloses his own fears and frustrations and the man who loved dogs admits that he is dying. In the shadow of death, the foreign man feels compelled to relay the details of his life to another person, and confesses to Iván that he is actually Ramón Mercader, the man who killed Leon Trotsky in Mexico City.

Moving seamlessly between Iván's life in Cuba, Mercader's early years in Spain and France, and Trotsky's long years of exile, The Man Who Loved Dogs is Leonardo Padura's most ambitious and brilliantly executed novel yet. It is the story of revolutions fought and betrayed, the ways in which men's political convictions are continually tested and manipulated, and a powerful critique of the role of fear in consolidating political power.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Long but without excess; philosophically charged but swiftly moving. A superb intellectual mystery." - Kirkus

"The story goes from the scorched earth of Spain in the 1930s, to the political hotbed that was Mexico in the 1940s, to Moscow during the Prague Summer of 1968, to Havana from the '70s to the near present...leaving the reader with the exhilarating feeling of having just experienced three entire lives." - Publishers Weekly

"This novel will appeal especially to readers who know (or want to know) the Trotsky story, though the title won't make the connection intuitive." - Library Journal

"The Man Who Loved Dogs is an excellent novel, rich in suggestions about the human condition and about our world that go beyond straight narrative history." - El Mundo (Spain)

"A novel of great force, and Padura's best ... [It] has great human density and an intense narrative dynamic." - La Vanguardia (Spain)

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Author Information

Leonardo Padura Author Biography

Leonardo Padura was born in 1955 in Havana and lives in Cuba. He has published a number of short-story collections and literary essays but international fame came with the Havana Quartet, all featuring Inspector Mario Conde.

Like many others of his generation, Padura had faced the question of leaving Cuba, particularly in the late 80s and early 90s, when living conditions deteriorated sharply as Russian aid evaporated. He chose to stay. And to write beautiful ironic novels in which Soviet-style socialism is condemned by implication through scenes of Havana life where even the police are savagely policed.

The crime novels feed on the noises and smells of Havana, on the ability of its inhabitants to keep joking, to make love and music, to drink rum, and to survive through petty crime ...

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