Excerpt from The Black Cathedral by Marcial Gala, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Black Cathedral

by Marcial Gala

The Black Cathedral by Marcial Gala X
The Black Cathedral by Marcial Gala
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2020, 224 pages

    Jan 2021, 224 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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Print Excerpt

"Besides, the Harley is a classic, the best there is in motorcycles."

"You said it."

"Look, here, go get six beers over there, but get Bucaneros." I made as if to put my hand in my pocket, but the guajiro was faster.

"Forget it." He opened his backpack and took out his wad of cash, and that was his mistake; he thought he was so young and strong with that bull's neck and those big mitts, he waltzed into the lion's den for a beer. What a moron, it still surprises me. I had to wait for him to drink three Bucanero beers and then say, "I'm going to the bathroom," and while Pork Chop talked to him, I got behind him, took out my switchblade, and quickly slit his throat so he wouldn't scream.

When Pork Chop came back, I had already counted the money and I had the guy naked on top of the sink. "Did you bring everything?"

Pork Chop opened the bag and showed me the hammer, the knives, and a machete.

"Did you tell the chumps we had steak?"

"Yes, of course."

"Who'd you talk to?"

"The ones in Punta Gorda. Those blancos are going to be eating dead person for a week."

"They deserve it. Let's get started." I grabbed the boning knife.

"You're really something, Gringo."

"What I am is a guy with money." I showed Pork Chop the big wad of bills. "Do you know how many are here? A thousand bills of a hundred each."

"And how much is that?"

"How much do you think?"

"I don't know, you tell me."

"You're such an idiot, Piggy, such an idiot."

"Lucky you that you're smart."

"Well, now we'll see if that little black girl from Camagüey gives me a chance, we'll see."


Gringo liked her as soon as he saw her. A black girl for taking out on the town, she has Beyoncé's body and the face of an angel, and she's going to be mine, he said, and it was as if he had branded her, no one in the neighborhood would dare mess with her.

"Pass it to me, loco, pass it to me!" I was shouting to Cricket, because that was his problem, he thought he was Messi, he didn't give the ball to anyone. Plenty of times I wanted to fight him after we lost a match because he thought he could handle everything like he was Ronaldinho Gaúcho himself. I'd get right on him, Next time you pass it or I'll fuck you up! That was before we knew that Gringo was all gaga over the sister and that it was dangerous to threaten to hit Cricket, because Gringo was a super inconvenient guy to cross, he was a Palo initiate, and besides, he seemed to be suddenly flush with cash; he showed up in the neighborhood one day riding a bike from the shopping center, he rang the bell and shouted, "I demand respect!" And everyone knew that Gringo was loaded, more so when he invited the whole neighborhood to drink beer, not just crappy little cans, or even bottles, but an enormous keg on wheels. Good old lager, and lots of it, but anyway, the keg stopped, attached to a tractor and everything, in front of one of the entrances to the neighborhood, and each family got a tub apiece. By ten at night, everyone was drunk, even the kids. It was pure pandemonium. All the families drank, except for the one from Camagüey, because when Gringo showed up at the Stuarts' door with eight cans of Bucanero beer and two cola drinks, the old man practically kicked him out.


"Hey," I said to him.

"Blessings," he said. "What do you desire?"

"I'm sharing, my friend, sharing," I began, which was my first mistake because the old man didn't like being called that.

"I'm not your friend."

"Yes, I know, it's a figure of speech. How would you like me to address you? Compañero? Fine then, no problem; I'll call you compañero and that's that."

"Oxen are compañeros. It's better to call me Mr. Stuart, or if that bothers you, Arturo Stuart or just Arturo."

Copyright © 2012 by Marcial Gala

Translation copyright © 2020 by Anna Kushner

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