Saturday, April 21, 2018

"Death Comes in through the Kitchen"

Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1966. She earned her BA in English literature and an MA in Spanish literature at the University of Havana, and her PhD in Latin American literature at the University of New Mexico. She is the author of twelve other works of fiction and three plays, and is the winner of the Rincón de la Victoria Award and a finalist for the Herralde Award.

Dovalpage applied the Page 69 Test to her new book, Death Comes in through the Kitchen, and reported the following:
On page 69 Matt is talking to Yarmila’s best friend, an enterprising cook named Isabel. Isabel owns a paladar –a small private restaurant located in her house. When she finds out that Matt is looking for a place to stay, she quickly offers him one:
“We have a room,” she explained, turning to Matt. “Small but recently painted and renovated, with its own bathroom and everything. Eh, viejo?” she prompted her husband. “Tell him.”

Despite being called an old man, Luis smiled pleasantly and said, “Yes, it is a penthouse. It has the best views in Havana.”
The page is representative of the book in the sense that Matt, a well-intentioned, naïve American, is led to believe something that turns out to be false. A few paragraphs later, when he gets to see the room, Matt realizes that calling it “a penthouse” is quite an overstatement. This sets the tone for his entire Cuban experience.

On page 69 there is also a mention of food:
Luis and Padrino had begun to discuss food providers. “The pound of pork costs seven CUCs at the Cuatro Caminos Farmers’ Market,” Luis was saying. “But I’d rather buy it from a guy that brings it to us for eight.”
Food is a theme throughout the book, particularly in Yarmila’s blog, which contains authentic Cuban recipes.

If writing this novel didn’t make me a better writer, it did make a me a better cook. I tried all the recipes before including them. Buen provecho!
Visit Teresa Dovalpage's website.

Writers Read: Teresa Dovalpage.

--Marshal Zeringue