Russian around Havana

I’m feeling a bit bereft because I’ve just finished reading all of Martin Cruz Smith’s beautifully written Renko novels. It turned into a project that lasted several months, starting with the most recent, Tatiana, and going back and forth till I finally decided to reread Gorky Park and move forward from there. After that strange, meandering journey with the poetic Russian chief inspector and sometime exile – an itinerary including lyrically rendered visits to Moscow, Alaska and Siberia – the last novel I read was Havana Bay. Incredibly enough (or perhaps not, since the author took the pen name “Cruz” from his abuelita), it includes a sensitive portrayal of Cuban Santeria. One could even call it emic – seen from the practitioner’s point of view. My only complaint is that it gives the impression that the only orishas worshipped in Cuba are Chango, Oshun, Oggun and Yemaya. Otherwise, I highly recommend it. But be sure to read Gorky Park, Polar Star and Red Square first.

(PS Since this is “a view from Brazil,” I should also add that I only managed to enjoy that journey without gaps of several months by purchasing the Kindle editions from Amazon)

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