Mambo peligroso : a novel / Patricia Chao.
Booklist Reviews 2005 April #2
/*Starred Review*/ Chao takes readers for a floor-scorching spin in this novel set in the sensuous world of salsa dancing. Japanese Cuban immigrant Catalina Ortiz Midori is sure she is ready to leave New York until the day she sets foot in Alegre Studio in the heart of Spanish Harlem. From the one-eyed teacher who beds women from every borough to the streetwise single mother who dances like a dream, Catalina ("Lina" to her fellow dancers) encounters New Yorkers whose personal histories are as compelling as their moves. Here is a world where lawyers and bricklayers alike ooze passion from every pore. The more Lina dances, the closer she feels to her long-neglected Latin roots. Chao, author of Monkey King (1997), is an accomplished mambo dancer and one-time member of the performance troupe Casa de la Salsa. Her descriptions of (literal) New York stomping grounds like the Palladium and Copacabana dazzle; her hot-blooded characters are believable and complex. This high-voltage novel will have readers furiously flipping pages and tapping their toes--perhaps even pondering some salsa sessions of their own. A glossary of dance and musical terms helps mambo neophytes distinguish a marimba from a conga and a Cuban drop from a Suzy-Q. ((Reviewed April 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2005 April #2
The author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Monkey King, Chao has created another compelling story, this one based on a danzon (a popular Cuban dance). Unfortunately, its opening is slow and includes too much dance-step detail, but true to danz¢n structure, the pace accelerates and becomes relentless. Set in New York City, with an excursion to Miami and a boat journey to Cuba, this novel indeed becomes a mambo peligroso ("perilous mambo"), with life being the highest stake. The characters-El Tuerto, the one-eyed mambo instructor; Wendy Cardoza, the Bronx-Dominican reigning mambera queen and former junkie; Catalina, a Japanese-Cuban immigrant who becomes obsessed with mambo; and Roberto, her Miami cousin and first love-literally and metaphorically mambo together on and off the dance floor. Exuding intense passion, energy, and sexuality, this becomes a complex tale in which separation and loss partner with redemption and revelation-but not without exacting a high toll. Recommended for all collections.-Sofia A. Tangalos, SUNY at Buffalo Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2005 April #3
The pulsating world of Latin music and dance in New York City stars in Chao's well-written if uneven second novel (after 1997's The Monkey King), which explores the cross-cultural experience of Catalina Ortiz Midori-half Japanese, half Cuban, raised in New England-as she becomes a disciple of El Tuerto, a world-class dancer who teaches a class on the "dangerous mambo" of the title. As Midori keeps reminding us, mambo is not a hobby but a way of life-almost a calling. Clearly drawn from an intimate personal knowledge of the scene (Chao has a second career as a professional mambo dancer), the book delves deeply into the intricacies of the dance as it sketches the backgrounds of Midori, El Tuerto and Wendy Cardoza, a brilliant "mambera" who befriends Midori. It all seems like a sexy Latin version of Saturday Night Fever-a voyeuristic glimpse into an unfamiliar world-until Midori, visiting her cousin in Miami, gets peripherally involved in a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro, a far more engaging drama that's never convincingly connected to the allegedly dangerous mambo. There's no doubt Chao the dancer feels right at home in the world of her book, but her theme-the rediscovery of her character's Cuban roots-is lost amid the tangles of convoluted plot. Agent, Heather Schroder at ICM. (May 10) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.