The Second Death of Unica Aveyano
By Ernesto Mestre-Reed
(Vintage Books, Paperback, 9781400033164, 259pp.)
Publication Date: March 9, 2004
List Price: $13.00*
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From the author of The Lazarus Rumba (“His symphonic imagination proves mesmerizing.” —New York Times Book Review; “Wonderful.” —Los Angeles Times), an inventive, poignant new novel.
One night in April, Única Aveyano sneaks out of her Miami nursing home and wanders toward the sea. Whether she intends to end her life or simply look at the ocean depends on whom you believe. She leaves behind her husband, a devoted nurse, the solicitude of her family—and the images of a little boy named Elián Gonzalez that are all over the news.
Her rash decision sets in motion a gorgeously told tale that is at once comedy and elegy. Every lived moment evokes for Única a story from her past, and we live that past with her: from the ghosts of her mother and stepfather in 1930s Guantánamo, and her beloved but wayward son, who refused to leave Cuba with the rest of the family, to her exile in Miami and New York City.
A chronicle of the familiar and the strange, of madness and clarity, of the ambivalence of home and family, The Second Death of Única Aveyano reveals unforgettably an indomitable woman whose entire life now seems a dress rehearsal for the heady days before her death.
“A powerful, funny, resonant tale of one extraordinary woman and the many lives she graces and ruins. Única Aveyano is as poignant and compelling and concentratedly Cubana as they come. She is mother to us all.”—Cristina Garcia, author of Monkey Hunting and Dreaming in Cuban
“Poetic and daring. . . . Mestre-Reed is a masterful observer.” —Francisco Goldman, author of The Ordinary Seaman
“Beneath the surface of Mestre-Reed’s prose there is a turbulent exchange between flesh and spirit, between free will and the caprice of fate. The Second Death of Única Aveyano unfolds like a dream, charged by lust and by sorrow, and fraught with the perils of an ulterior logic.” —David Hollander, author of L.I.E.