Christopher’s book review of The Distant Marvels from author Chantel Acevedo, appears in The Brooklyn Rail.
From the Europa Editions website: “The story of a lifetime told in the eye of a hurricane. Maria Sirena tells stories. She does it for money—she was a favorite in the cigar factory where she worked as a lettora—and for love, spinning gossamer tales out of her own past for the benefit of friends and family. But now, like a modern-day Scheherazade, she will be asked to tell a story so that eight women can keep both hope and themselves alive.”
Here is the opening of the review:
In 1963, a storm approaches Cuba, and an elderly woman named María Sirena knows that it is coming. She sees the “ferocious churn of the sky, like a black mouth opening and closing.” This mouth-storm tells stories—but bigger than stories. The storm is “bigger than all of Cuba.” There is talk that this storm over Haiti had wrenched away the sea to reveal a sunken ship, and then dropped the sea back onto it. For María Sirena, the storm tells us these stories. It reveals things that we have done.