Thursday, September 13, 2012

Band of Thebes on Jaime Manrique's Cervantes Street

Band of Thebes has a post on gay author Jaime Manrique's new book Cervantes Street:

Your wait is over. The eminent gay author Jaime Manrique's big new novel, his first in five and half years, is now on sale. The publisher is comparing Cervantes Street to Amadeus and Wolf Hall, for its dazzling recreation of a renowned life. It has already won kudos from Junot Díaz ("fantastically talented") and Esmeralda Santiago, but the reader whose opinion matters most in this case is Edith Grossman, the famed translator who published the definitive Don Quixote. She loved it: "Jaime Manrique has written an exceptional historical novel, recreating with imagination and detailed accuracy the world of Late Renaissance in Spain. Manrique's rendering of the life of Cervantes is brilliant, and his solution to the mystery of who wrote the false Quixote is fascinating, and very persuasive."

One early review praised his telling of "the already larger than life true story of Miguel de Cervantes, who flees Madrid after a near-fatal duel, loses use of his left hand in battle, is kidnapped and sold into slavery by pirates, who believe he “will fetch a good ransom because he’s a war hero” and, finally, pens the masterwork Don Quixote. Too good a story to be true? Perhaps, but what Manrique is really interested in is not the sensationalism of Cervantes’s life but his star-crossed relationship with Luis de Lara, who lacks Cervantes’ talent and heart, but gets the money and the girl. Neither man is satisfied with his lot in life, and they compete and support each other in turn, both jealous of what the other man possesses (Manrique assumes both points of view)."

Manrique recently told PW: "Even though I had been an admirer of Don Quixote since I’d read it at 15 years old, I had no idea about Cervantes’ life. I started reading about him and traveling to places he’d lived. I learned where he was born, where his family lived; I learned about his time as a soldier and a slave. But many specifics of his life remained unknown. I wanted to fill in the emotional spaces between the highlights."

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