Last week, Freight Books read…

Pig's Foot by Carlos AcostaPig’s Foot, by Carlos Acosta (Bloomsbury Publishing), translated by Frank Wynne. Pig’s Foot is a temporal traipse through the history of Cuba. The narrator, Oscar Mandinga, leads us through the four-generation family history of Pata de Puerco (guess what this translates to), a Macondo-like slave village in Cuba’s deep south.

This is a rather remarkable debut novel, clearly a labour of love, which describes the landscape and, above all, people of Cuba in delicious technicolour. The currents of bloody revolution that flow around this little village, the changes that occur, and the wonderfully-drawn characters that inhabit it, all add up to a rich and satisfying meal.

Sadly there is a however, right here:

However, I didn’t get along with the magical realism present in the text. For me it was sailing all too close to 100 Years of Solitude, and only really escapes that enormous shadow in the final quarter of the book (not in a good way, sadly).

On the whole, and writing as someone who has always rather wanted to visit Cuba, I really enjoyed this book for the instances, the happenings, and the small colourful vignettes that make up its whole. They are marvelous, show great skill, and certainly make up for the poor-quality frame within which they sit. If you read this novel, and I hope you do, you will find the picture of Cuba you receive will be well worth it!

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