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Vanishing Maps

A novel

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Hardcover
$28.00 US
5.89"W x 8.5"H x 1.04"D  
On sale Jul 18, 2023 | 272 Pages | 978-0-593-53474-8
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
From the acclaimed author of Dreaming in Cuban, a follow-up novel that tracks four generations of the del Pino family against the tumultuous backdrops of Cuba, the U.S., Germany, and Russia in the new millennium

Celia del Pino, the matriarch of a far-flung Cuban family, has watched her descendants spread out across the globe, struggling to make sense of their transnational identities and strained relationships with one another. In Berlin, the charismatic yet troubled Ivanito performs on stage as his drag queen persona, while being haunted by the ghost of his mother. Pilar Puente, adrift in Los Angeles, is a struggling sculptor and the single mother of a young son. In Moscow, Ivanito’s cousin Irina has become the wealthy owner of a lingerie company, but she remains deeply lonely in the wake of her parents’ deaths and her estrangement from her Cuban heritage. Meanwhile, in Havana, Celia prepares to reunite with her lost lover, Gustavo, and wonders whether age and the decades spent apart have altered their bond.

Cut off from their Cuban roots, yet still feeling the island’s ineluctable pull, Ivanito and his extended family try to reimagine where—and with whom—they belong. Over the course of a momentous year, each will grapple with their histories as they are pulled to Berlin for a final, explosive reunion.

Set twenty years after the events in Dreaming in Cuban, Cristina García’s new novel is an epic tale of family, devotion, and the timeless search for home.

"Who else but Cristina García could construct a novel of such elegance and grace? A feat of magical realism that is also a hyper-realistic depiction of the Cuban diaspora? That is also very, very funny? This family saga gripped me from start to finish. Unforgettable.” —Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year

“Vanishing Maps is a beautiful novel: hilarious one moment, haunting the next.  Cristina García brings us to Cuba, Germany, Russia, Spain, and the United States in this wonderful mad dash of a tale, but the topography she knows best is the human heart.  I devoured this book.  You will, too.” —Chris Bohjalian, author of The Flight Attendant and The Lioness
© Gary L. Aguilar
CRISTINA GARCÍA is the author of eight novels including Dreaming in Cuban, The Agüero Sisters, Monkey Hunting, A Handbook to Luck, The Lady Matador’s Hotel, King of Cuba and Here in Berlin. García’s work has been nominated for a National Book Award and translated into fifteen languages. She’s taught at universities nationwide and was a resident playwright at Central Works Theater in Berkeley. View titles by Cristina García
1

Celia del Pino

Havana

Celia del Pino woke up fiercely thirsty in the ice-cold bed. The blinds were half-open, inviting the last strips of moonlight into her room. If she strained to listen, she could hear the scratching of the late-shift nurse’s pen, an injured cement worker’s moaning (his thumb crushed in an industrial accident), a lonely cricket singing for its mate. Neon lines pulsed on the beeping monitor at her side, recording her every breath and heartbeat. There was a sharp twinge in the crook of her elbow, where the IV had been snugly taped. Her hands felt arthritic. She reached for the glass of water on her nightstand and accidentally spilled half of it on her hospital gown.

Celia patted herself dry with the thin blanket, then rearranged it over her knees. There was little left of her to create much of a topography beneath the unraveling cotton--just sunken planes and boney angles, the painful mound of her belly, a single shriveled breast. Her room, a stark enameled white, reminded her of the Russian refrigerator she’d been awarded once for exemplary service to the Revolution.

It was barely dawn. Two flies circled lazily overhead, as if through honey. Celia’s vision blurred, then grew inexplicably telescopic. From her window she caught glimpses of Havana’s patchwork rooftops, its illegal antennae, laundry lines crisscrossing the crumbling balconies. A viejita played solitaire at her kitchen table, a clay pot of lilies at her feet. The ocean wasn’t visible but Celia smelled it like she could smell her own fermenting flesh.

A gentle hand on her brow disrupted her reveries. It was Reinaldo, the kind morning nurse, who’d come to take her temperature. Celia’s fever remained high and her intestinal infection was pernicious despite the deluge of antibiotics. Her diverticula remained dangerously inflamed. One of them had ruptured, the doctors said, partly spilling the contents of her colon into her abdominal cavity. Sepsis had set in. For the last five days Celia had been flirting with death, semiconscious, dizzy from the drugs and unfamiliar faces.

Reinaldo gave her a dozen pills and a cup of diluted orange juice to wash them down.

“You know I can’t even swallow an aspirin,” Celia rasped.

“Go ahead, just one at a time. I have a prize for you when you finish.”

Celia trusted this nurse. He was a good son of the Revolution, never any talk of abandoning the island, of living like El Rey de los Gusanos in Miami. She swallowed the first pill without trouble, choked on the second and third. Reinaldo refilled her cup halfway. It was only for the sweetness of the orange juice that she finished. The nurse rewarded Celia with a sheet of paper and a ballpoint pen.

“To write back to that lover of yours,” he teased her. “You’re never too old for romance!”

“Nonsense.” Celia was pleased but tried not to show it. “And what about that cigar you promised me?” She took up smoking after El Lider had quit fourteen years ago, as if to continue the pleasure for him, as if to say, I’ll take the risk for you, guapo—no te preocupes.

“That’s going to be a lot harder.” Reinaldo laughed and tucked a nub of gardenia-scented soap into Celia’s battered handbag.

“Gracias, nino. You must be convinced that I’m going to make it out of here alive.”

“Alive and squeaky clean,” the nurse sang as he headed out the door. “So, write to him already! You won’t be kicking around forever!”

It’d been weeks since Gustavo’s first letter arrived, after an inexplicable months-long journey from Spain, damaged and multiply-stamped, a half-dozen pages of oniony airmail paper translucent as her own skin. Another had followed just yesterday. Herminia had delivered it to Celia in the hospital, along with a batch of her malanga fritters.

“Now, don’t go planning your funeral yet,” her neighbor joked, handing over the Spaniard’s letter. “Go ahead and read it. Late love is better than no love at all!”

Even the normally levelheaded Herminia had gotten caught up in the delusion of a romantic revival. Hadn’t life taught her anything? Why wasn’t she angry instead that Gustavo had dared unsettle Celia after a lifetime of radio silence? The arrogance of that man to expect his overtures to prevail--and at his convenience! As if his pesky ardor could resurrect Celia’s love.

What Gustavo deserved was her scorn, a steaming helping of it! Celia had been infinitely more at peace when she’d believed her ex-lover dead. Over the years she’d relied on the solace of amnesia and a diminishing litany of regrets. What good were his words to her now? If Gustavo had never stopped loving her, as he professed, why had he chosen to spend his life without her? And the nerve of him to quote Garcia Lorca, knowing exactly which lines would melt her heart!

Against her better judgment, Celia conjured up memories of Gustavo, flash-frozen in time, from their four rapturous nights at the Hotel Inglaterra. Bueno, there was no denying his beauty, his seductiveness. She could linger on a detailed inventory of his gifts, but it was his lips Celia remembered best. How they’d searched for the softness, the pleasure she had hidden even from herself.

I burned in your body / without knowing whose it was . . .

Gustavo hadn’t promised her anything--that much was true—but their flesh had made its own pledges. Didn’t that count for something? Celia smoothed the sheet of paper on her food tray, uncapped the ballpoint pen, and began to write:

Querido Gustavo, It’s been an eternity since I sent you my one and only letter. Did you ever receive it? I still know it by heart. A fish swims in my lung. Without you, what is there to celebrate?

The cadaverous gastroenterologist swept into the room with a gaggle of interns. How young they looked, mere schoolboys! One had a cowlick. Another’s stethoscope appeared oversize, as if he’d stolen it from a real doctor’s medicine bag. And their voices were alternately hoarse and squeaking. How could they possibly be physicians? The clock on the wall ticked loudly, a reminder that their time on earth was limited, that it would cheat them all in the end. Before long, these boys would grow old like her. And they, too, would die.

“¿Donde esta la doctora?” Celia flinched at the cold stethoscope on her back and struggled to take a breath.

“She left the country unexpectedly.” Dr. Maldonado was curt. “Now cough for me, please.” Another round of poking and prodding, a flurry of note-taking on their clacking clipboards, and the lot of them exited at last.

As the island’s economy worsened, even the doctors were defecting. Celia had heard of entire families taking to the seas on flimsy rafts, hurricane season or not. Many didn’t survive the crossing to Florida and ended up buried at sea. Celia considered her five grandchildren scattered across the globe—in Los Angeles, Miami, Moscow, Berlin—and imagined them waving to her weakly from distant shores. What did she know about any of them?

Celia propped herself on an elbow and considered the photograph of El Lider on the far wall. He was watching over her, como siempre, a cigar jutting from his untamed beard. How virile he was! Hecho y derecho. His gaze confident, fearless. Follow me, it said. This was the same official picture (claro, years out of date) that hung in every hospital room on the island, every post office and provincial town hall, every butcher shop and mechanic’s garage, from the illustrious halls of El Capitolio to the shaded Vedado mansion of the Ministry of Culture.

Celia studied El Lider’s face and saw a man afraid of being fatally ordinary.

After the triumph of the Revolution, women had shamelessly thrown themselves at El Lider, tossing panties and panuelos, hoping to detain him on his long march from the Sierra Maestra to Havana. Men all over the island had imitated him and his band of barbudos, germinating scraggly beards that occasioned more abrasions than ardor. But it was El Lider’s charisma, his fluency in the language of inspiration, his ability to rally el pueblo, that had kept Celia in his thrall for more than forty years.

Only he had never abandoned her. Only he had remained steadfast. Only he had given her a true sense of purpose. Not like that fickle Gustavo, with his pretty, empty words. Celia looked up at El Lider again, fearing that he might have sensed her fleeting disloyalty.

“I was merely trifling with an extinguished love,” she confessed aloud. “Surely you can forgive an old woman’s silliness, no?”

Mira, he was smiling at her now, chewing on his Cohiba. Wait. What was he saying? Celia leaned forward, straining to catch his words. His cigar’s ribboning smoke encircled her waist, sinuously tugged at her legs. She felt herself rising above the hospital bed, floating toward him, toward his sexy, smoke-expelling mouth. Celia parted her lips to speak but no words came out. Her breathing deepened, became the cloud in which she hovered as the blue smoke turned her like a spit-roasting pig.

She noted with interest the spectacle of her inert body on the hospital bed below, strikingly at odds with her vibrant interior. And what was that spot of blood on her pillow? Had her ear bled from listening for El Lider so intently? Chopin’s haunting “Funeral March” filtered through her brain at half tempo. Celia had a soft spot for anything written in the key of B-flat minor. She recalled the Soviet pianist who’d played Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata no. 2 at the Pro Arte Musical in 1964. Divino el tipo.

“Aguante un poco mas, vieja,” El Lider insisted. “Que te necesitamos.”

Did she detect a note of flirtation in his voice? Ay, it was impossible to refuse this man anything! If he said la revolucion still needed her, then it did. If he said her time hadn’t come yet, then it hadn’t. El Lider lived inside her—a thrilling, galvanizing presence. Si, she was more tightly bound to him than any lifelong wife could ever be. Celia relaxed her muscles and gradually settled back into her body. El Lider, too, retreated to his portrait and grew still.

To surrender one’s life for love, for the loss of it—Celia understood this, having done it twice: first, and recklessly, for Gustavo; second, and more enduringly, for El Lider. But she could no more deny life’s inescapable end than believe in an afterlife. The best she could do now was try, for a little longer, to postpone her fate. Celia had no illusions that death would come for her jingling on a bicycle with a rusty bell. No, she suspected, death would arrive like a Stygian owl, all wings and patient majesty, swooping in for the kill.
"Full of antic energy, very funny though still quite tender . . . As moments of wisdom thread through the madcap, magical realist scenes, García’s reunion with her characters becomes a party worth attending." The Washington Post

"An intricate, rewarding portrait of a globe-spanning, multigenerational family . . . Not only is García a masterful writer, effortlessly weaving together multiple narrative strands, she also demonstrates a remarkable facility for languages, switching from English to Spanish to Russian to German with ease . . . Vanishing Maps is, at heart, a book about family, yet it’s also about geography, culture, and language. There is something for everyone in its pages." Washington Independent Review of Books

“A kaleidoscopic, dazzling portrait of global diaspora—the ties that bind, the winds that scatter, and the passions that connect and divide human hearts. Sexy and philosophical, cosmic and intimate, rippling with humor and insight and tenderness, this novel is a wonder and a joy to read.” Carolina De Robertis, author of The President and the Frog

"Now here is a family saga for our time! Edgy, full of life, and compulsively readable, Vanishing Maps sends one Cuban family through the blender of history and brings it out miraculously whole. A triumph.” —Gish Jen, author of The Resisters

"Who else but Cristina Garcia could construct a novel of such elegance and grace? A feat of magical realism that is also a hyper-realistic depiction of the Cuban diaspora? That is also very, very funny? This family saga gripped me from start to finish. Unforgettable.” —Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year

"Vanishing Maps is a beautiful novel: hilarious one moment, haunting the next.  Cristina García brings us to Cuba, Germany, Russia, Spain, and the United States in this wonderful mad dash of a tale, but the topography she knows best is the human heart.  I devoured this book.  You will, too.” —Chris Bohjalian, author of The Flight Attendant and The Lioness

“García serves up a sabroso (tasty) smorgasbord of muy human family foibles, from obsession to passion, forbearance, and all kinds of love.” Booklist (starred review)

About

From the acclaimed author of Dreaming in Cuban, a follow-up novel that tracks four generations of the del Pino family against the tumultuous backdrops of Cuba, the U.S., Germany, and Russia in the new millennium

Celia del Pino, the matriarch of a far-flung Cuban family, has watched her descendants spread out across the globe, struggling to make sense of their transnational identities and strained relationships with one another. In Berlin, the charismatic yet troubled Ivanito performs on stage as his drag queen persona, while being haunted by the ghost of his mother. Pilar Puente, adrift in Los Angeles, is a struggling sculptor and the single mother of a young son. In Moscow, Ivanito’s cousin Irina has become the wealthy owner of a lingerie company, but she remains deeply lonely in the wake of her parents’ deaths and her estrangement from her Cuban heritage. Meanwhile, in Havana, Celia prepares to reunite with her lost lover, Gustavo, and wonders whether age and the decades spent apart have altered their bond.

Cut off from their Cuban roots, yet still feeling the island’s ineluctable pull, Ivanito and his extended family try to reimagine where—and with whom—they belong. Over the course of a momentous year, each will grapple with their histories as they are pulled to Berlin for a final, explosive reunion.

Set twenty years after the events in Dreaming in Cuban, Cristina García’s new novel is an epic tale of family, devotion, and the timeless search for home.

"Who else but Cristina García could construct a novel of such elegance and grace? A feat of magical realism that is also a hyper-realistic depiction of the Cuban diaspora? That is also very, very funny? This family saga gripped me from start to finish. Unforgettable.” —Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year

“Vanishing Maps is a beautiful novel: hilarious one moment, haunting the next.  Cristina García brings us to Cuba, Germany, Russia, Spain, and the United States in this wonderful mad dash of a tale, but the topography she knows best is the human heart.  I devoured this book.  You will, too.” —Chris Bohjalian, author of The Flight Attendant and The Lioness

Author

© Gary L. Aguilar
CRISTINA GARCÍA is the author of eight novels including Dreaming in Cuban, The Agüero Sisters, Monkey Hunting, A Handbook to Luck, The Lady Matador’s Hotel, King of Cuba and Here in Berlin. García’s work has been nominated for a National Book Award and translated into fifteen languages. She’s taught at universities nationwide and was a resident playwright at Central Works Theater in Berkeley. View titles by Cristina García

Excerpt

1

Celia del Pino

Havana

Celia del Pino woke up fiercely thirsty in the ice-cold bed. The blinds were half-open, inviting the last strips of moonlight into her room. If she strained to listen, she could hear the scratching of the late-shift nurse’s pen, an injured cement worker’s moaning (his thumb crushed in an industrial accident), a lonely cricket singing for its mate. Neon lines pulsed on the beeping monitor at her side, recording her every breath and heartbeat. There was a sharp twinge in the crook of her elbow, where the IV had been snugly taped. Her hands felt arthritic. She reached for the glass of water on her nightstand and accidentally spilled half of it on her hospital gown.

Celia patted herself dry with the thin blanket, then rearranged it over her knees. There was little left of her to create much of a topography beneath the unraveling cotton--just sunken planes and boney angles, the painful mound of her belly, a single shriveled breast. Her room, a stark enameled white, reminded her of the Russian refrigerator she’d been awarded once for exemplary service to the Revolution.

It was barely dawn. Two flies circled lazily overhead, as if through honey. Celia’s vision blurred, then grew inexplicably telescopic. From her window she caught glimpses of Havana’s patchwork rooftops, its illegal antennae, laundry lines crisscrossing the crumbling balconies. A viejita played solitaire at her kitchen table, a clay pot of lilies at her feet. The ocean wasn’t visible but Celia smelled it like she could smell her own fermenting flesh.

A gentle hand on her brow disrupted her reveries. It was Reinaldo, the kind morning nurse, who’d come to take her temperature. Celia’s fever remained high and her intestinal infection was pernicious despite the deluge of antibiotics. Her diverticula remained dangerously inflamed. One of them had ruptured, the doctors said, partly spilling the contents of her colon into her abdominal cavity. Sepsis had set in. For the last five days Celia had been flirting with death, semiconscious, dizzy from the drugs and unfamiliar faces.

Reinaldo gave her a dozen pills and a cup of diluted orange juice to wash them down.

“You know I can’t even swallow an aspirin,” Celia rasped.

“Go ahead, just one at a time. I have a prize for you when you finish.”

Celia trusted this nurse. He was a good son of the Revolution, never any talk of abandoning the island, of living like El Rey de los Gusanos in Miami. She swallowed the first pill without trouble, choked on the second and third. Reinaldo refilled her cup halfway. It was only for the sweetness of the orange juice that she finished. The nurse rewarded Celia with a sheet of paper and a ballpoint pen.

“To write back to that lover of yours,” he teased her. “You’re never too old for romance!”

“Nonsense.” Celia was pleased but tried not to show it. “And what about that cigar you promised me?” She took up smoking after El Lider had quit fourteen years ago, as if to continue the pleasure for him, as if to say, I’ll take the risk for you, guapo—no te preocupes.

“That’s going to be a lot harder.” Reinaldo laughed and tucked a nub of gardenia-scented soap into Celia’s battered handbag.

“Gracias, nino. You must be convinced that I’m going to make it out of here alive.”

“Alive and squeaky clean,” the nurse sang as he headed out the door. “So, write to him already! You won’t be kicking around forever!”

It’d been weeks since Gustavo’s first letter arrived, after an inexplicable months-long journey from Spain, damaged and multiply-stamped, a half-dozen pages of oniony airmail paper translucent as her own skin. Another had followed just yesterday. Herminia had delivered it to Celia in the hospital, along with a batch of her malanga fritters.

“Now, don’t go planning your funeral yet,” her neighbor joked, handing over the Spaniard’s letter. “Go ahead and read it. Late love is better than no love at all!”

Even the normally levelheaded Herminia had gotten caught up in the delusion of a romantic revival. Hadn’t life taught her anything? Why wasn’t she angry instead that Gustavo had dared unsettle Celia after a lifetime of radio silence? The arrogance of that man to expect his overtures to prevail--and at his convenience! As if his pesky ardor could resurrect Celia’s love.

What Gustavo deserved was her scorn, a steaming helping of it! Celia had been infinitely more at peace when she’d believed her ex-lover dead. Over the years she’d relied on the solace of amnesia and a diminishing litany of regrets. What good were his words to her now? If Gustavo had never stopped loving her, as he professed, why had he chosen to spend his life without her? And the nerve of him to quote Garcia Lorca, knowing exactly which lines would melt her heart!

Against her better judgment, Celia conjured up memories of Gustavo, flash-frozen in time, from their four rapturous nights at the Hotel Inglaterra. Bueno, there was no denying his beauty, his seductiveness. She could linger on a detailed inventory of his gifts, but it was his lips Celia remembered best. How they’d searched for the softness, the pleasure she had hidden even from herself.

I burned in your body / without knowing whose it was . . .

Gustavo hadn’t promised her anything--that much was true—but their flesh had made its own pledges. Didn’t that count for something? Celia smoothed the sheet of paper on her food tray, uncapped the ballpoint pen, and began to write:

Querido Gustavo, It’s been an eternity since I sent you my one and only letter. Did you ever receive it? I still know it by heart. A fish swims in my lung. Without you, what is there to celebrate?

The cadaverous gastroenterologist swept into the room with a gaggle of interns. How young they looked, mere schoolboys! One had a cowlick. Another’s stethoscope appeared oversize, as if he’d stolen it from a real doctor’s medicine bag. And their voices were alternately hoarse and squeaking. How could they possibly be physicians? The clock on the wall ticked loudly, a reminder that their time on earth was limited, that it would cheat them all in the end. Before long, these boys would grow old like her. And they, too, would die.

“¿Donde esta la doctora?” Celia flinched at the cold stethoscope on her back and struggled to take a breath.

“She left the country unexpectedly.” Dr. Maldonado was curt. “Now cough for me, please.” Another round of poking and prodding, a flurry of note-taking on their clacking clipboards, and the lot of them exited at last.

As the island’s economy worsened, even the doctors were defecting. Celia had heard of entire families taking to the seas on flimsy rafts, hurricane season or not. Many didn’t survive the crossing to Florida and ended up buried at sea. Celia considered her five grandchildren scattered across the globe—in Los Angeles, Miami, Moscow, Berlin—and imagined them waving to her weakly from distant shores. What did she know about any of them?

Celia propped herself on an elbow and considered the photograph of El Lider on the far wall. He was watching over her, como siempre, a cigar jutting from his untamed beard. How virile he was! Hecho y derecho. His gaze confident, fearless. Follow me, it said. This was the same official picture (claro, years out of date) that hung in every hospital room on the island, every post office and provincial town hall, every butcher shop and mechanic’s garage, from the illustrious halls of El Capitolio to the shaded Vedado mansion of the Ministry of Culture.

Celia studied El Lider’s face and saw a man afraid of being fatally ordinary.

After the triumph of the Revolution, women had shamelessly thrown themselves at El Lider, tossing panties and panuelos, hoping to detain him on his long march from the Sierra Maestra to Havana. Men all over the island had imitated him and his band of barbudos, germinating scraggly beards that occasioned more abrasions than ardor. But it was El Lider’s charisma, his fluency in the language of inspiration, his ability to rally el pueblo, that had kept Celia in his thrall for more than forty years.

Only he had never abandoned her. Only he had remained steadfast. Only he had given her a true sense of purpose. Not like that fickle Gustavo, with his pretty, empty words. Celia looked up at El Lider again, fearing that he might have sensed her fleeting disloyalty.

“I was merely trifling with an extinguished love,” she confessed aloud. “Surely you can forgive an old woman’s silliness, no?”

Mira, he was smiling at her now, chewing on his Cohiba. Wait. What was he saying? Celia leaned forward, straining to catch his words. His cigar’s ribboning smoke encircled her waist, sinuously tugged at her legs. She felt herself rising above the hospital bed, floating toward him, toward his sexy, smoke-expelling mouth. Celia parted her lips to speak but no words came out. Her breathing deepened, became the cloud in which she hovered as the blue smoke turned her like a spit-roasting pig.

She noted with interest the spectacle of her inert body on the hospital bed below, strikingly at odds with her vibrant interior. And what was that spot of blood on her pillow? Had her ear bled from listening for El Lider so intently? Chopin’s haunting “Funeral March” filtered through her brain at half tempo. Celia had a soft spot for anything written in the key of B-flat minor. She recalled the Soviet pianist who’d played Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata no. 2 at the Pro Arte Musical in 1964. Divino el tipo.

“Aguante un poco mas, vieja,” El Lider insisted. “Que te necesitamos.”

Did she detect a note of flirtation in his voice? Ay, it was impossible to refuse this man anything! If he said la revolucion still needed her, then it did. If he said her time hadn’t come yet, then it hadn’t. El Lider lived inside her—a thrilling, galvanizing presence. Si, she was more tightly bound to him than any lifelong wife could ever be. Celia relaxed her muscles and gradually settled back into her body. El Lider, too, retreated to his portrait and grew still.

To surrender one’s life for love, for the loss of it—Celia understood this, having done it twice: first, and recklessly, for Gustavo; second, and more enduringly, for El Lider. But she could no more deny life’s inescapable end than believe in an afterlife. The best she could do now was try, for a little longer, to postpone her fate. Celia had no illusions that death would come for her jingling on a bicycle with a rusty bell. No, she suspected, death would arrive like a Stygian owl, all wings and patient majesty, swooping in for the kill.

Praise

"Full of antic energy, very funny though still quite tender . . . As moments of wisdom thread through the madcap, magical realist scenes, García’s reunion with her characters becomes a party worth attending." The Washington Post

"An intricate, rewarding portrait of a globe-spanning, multigenerational family . . . Not only is García a masterful writer, effortlessly weaving together multiple narrative strands, she also demonstrates a remarkable facility for languages, switching from English to Spanish to Russian to German with ease . . . Vanishing Maps is, at heart, a book about family, yet it’s also about geography, culture, and language. There is something for everyone in its pages." Washington Independent Review of Books

“A kaleidoscopic, dazzling portrait of global diaspora—the ties that bind, the winds that scatter, and the passions that connect and divide human hearts. Sexy and philosophical, cosmic and intimate, rippling with humor and insight and tenderness, this novel is a wonder and a joy to read.” Carolina De Robertis, author of The President and the Frog

"Now here is a family saga for our time! Edgy, full of life, and compulsively readable, Vanishing Maps sends one Cuban family through the blender of history and brings it out miraculously whole. A triumph.” —Gish Jen, author of The Resisters

"Who else but Cristina Garcia could construct a novel of such elegance and grace? A feat of magical realism that is also a hyper-realistic depiction of the Cuban diaspora? That is also very, very funny? This family saga gripped me from start to finish. Unforgettable.” —Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year

"Vanishing Maps is a beautiful novel: hilarious one moment, haunting the next.  Cristina García brings us to Cuba, Germany, Russia, Spain, and the United States in this wonderful mad dash of a tale, but the topography she knows best is the human heart.  I devoured this book.  You will, too.” —Chris Bohjalian, author of The Flight Attendant and The Lioness

“García serves up a sabroso (tasty) smorgasbord of muy human family foibles, from obsession to passion, forbearance, and all kinds of love.” Booklist (starred review)

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