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a new lease of death

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Spanning the globe and several decades, Derek Palacio's stunning, mythic novel marks the arrival of a fresh voice in the tradition of the American epic and opens a new chapter in the history of twenty-first-century Cuban-American literature.In 1980, during the traumatic Mariel Boatlift, a small Cuban family suffers irreparable damage. Uxbal Encarnacion--father, husband, political insurgent--refuses to leave behind the revolutionary ideals and lush tomato farms of his sun-soaked homeland. Soledad--fierce enough to hold a blade to her own child's throat--takes young Isabel and Ulises hostage and flees with them to America, leaving behind Uxbal for the promise of a better life. But instead of settling with fellow Cuban immigrants in Miami's familiar heat, the Encarnacions push farther northward into the stark, wintry landscape of Hartford, Connecticut. There, in the long shadow of their estranged patriarch, now just a distant memory, the exiled mother and her children begin a process of growth and transformation.Each struggles and flourishes in his or her own way as they seek their own identities: Isabel, spiritually hungry and desperate for higher purpose, finds herself tethered to death and the dying in uncanny ways. Meanwhile, Ulises is bookish and awkwardly tall, but of the earth like his father, whose memory haunts and shapes the boy's thoughts and desires. Presiding over both is severe yet sensuous Soledad. Once consumed by her love for her husband, she forges new darkly romantic and sexual ground with Henri Willems, a Dutch tobacco farmer with ambitious capitalist dreams. But just as the Encarnacions begin to cultivate their strange new way of life, Cuba calls them back. Uxbal is alive, and waiting.Breathtaking, soulful, and profound, The Mortifications is an intoxicating family saga and a timely, urgent expression of longing for one's true homeland.