Set in Cuba in 1998, Sacrificio is a triumphant and mesmeric work of violence, loss, and identity, following a group of young HIV-positive counterrevolutionaries who seek to overthrow the Castro government.

Cuba, 1998: Rafa, an Afro-Cuban orphan, moves to Havana with nothing to his name and falls into a job at a café. He is soon drawn into a web of ever-shifting entanglements with his boss’s son, the charismatic Renato, leader of the counterrevolutionary group “Los Injected Ones,” which is planning a violent overthrow of the Castro government during Pope John Paul II’s upcoming visit.
 
When Renato goes missing, Rafa’s search for his friend takes him through various haunts in Havana: from an AIDS sanatorium, to the guest rooms of tourist hotels, to the outskirts of the capital, where he enters a phantasmagorical slum cobbled together from the city’s detritus by Los Injected Ones.
 
A novel of cascading prose that captures a nation in slow collapse, Sacrificio is a visionary work, capturing the fury, passion, fatalism, and grim humor of young lives lived at the margins of a society they desperately wish to change.
Ernesto Mestre-Reed was born in Guantánamo, Cuba, and lives in New York City. He is the author of the novels The Lazarus Rumba and The Second Death of Única Aveyano. He is a Guggenheim Fiction Fellow and a MacDowell Fellow and teaches at Brooklyn College. He has also translated many novels from Spanish, including Laura Esquivel’s Malinche.
PARADE OF MONDAYS
 
In the early weeks of that long summer of 1997, before the bombs started going off in the capital, Cecilia came with me one last time on the Monday road trip to the village of Cojímar to help me mourn her oldest son.
     As we strolled on the beach, she took my hand, and some time must have passed before I noticed, for I continued to look out to the sea and at first did not see our bodies merge in front of us as she leaned into me. It’s a sign, she told me, pointing with her other hand to our single bulging shadow. The contorted passing of a onewinged bird, she said. A sign, también, that I did not notice these things, she added.
     Shadows.
     A useless solitary wing.
     Every Monday morning, we drove the two dozen miles from the house on Calle Obispo in Old Havana to this barren fishing village that el pendejo Hemingway had made famous with his little fishing novel, and we sat, or strolled, or looked out to the sea—the place where her son, Nicolás, had picked me up a year and a half before. We ate the lunch that Cecilia had prepared perched on a sea wall outside La Terraza, a restaurant from where dishfaced Yuma—the tourists—stared out at the crystalline sea with etherized gazes.
     I thought us as hapless and doomed as the poor old man of that novel. Other times, I wasn’t that dramático. As Cecilia liked to point out: I was bored, dreaming about things that didn’t exist in the Island. They never have. Did I know, she asked, that when the yanquis had made the film of the novel with Meester Spencer Tracy they had to go all the way down to the coast of South America because Cuban marlin rarely jump out of the water? And yanquis need that. Things jumping out. Why? I asked, playing along, not remembering if the marlin in the book jumped out. Why don’t Cuban marlin jump out? Too passive, just like the rest of us, como cualquier cubano.
     I snapped my hand free and waded into the sea, the water chattering on the crushed-shells shore so that I couldn’t hear her sighs. She came there with me from the capital to appease me. Because I insisted, she reminded me. So many more productive things she could do with her Mondays. Vegetables and fruit to buy for the paladar. The earlier in the week the fresher the black-market produce, brought into the city on Sunday nights from nearby illicit farms, full crates of okra and plátanos and boniatos hidden under dusty blankets and peddled from darkened parlors—though the State had eased the restrictions on private enterprise, no one really was sure how much. Not even the inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture knew, so they made up the rules as they went along. There were the crazy skeletal chickens to feed and their meager miniscule soft-shelled eggs to gather—flyers to get out to the hotels. Poor Juan couldn’t do it all, Cecilia said. It’s enough that he rents us a car for the day. Though it was, I knew, not rented at all, but one of the many máquinas privadas that comandante Juan owned and rented himself to taxistas in the capital to shuttle tourists around. Cecilia sacrificed her Mondays to come with me, to morbidly memorialize her dead older son, as she put it, and once here, coño, I ignored her.
     I let her follow a few silent paces behind me as I trekked from one end of the rocky beach to the other, back and forth, back and forth, patrolling the shore as if not to let the endless parade of Mondays escape from us, mount a rickety balsa, and leave us forever. Soon, I feared, our weeks would be a day shorter—all the Mondays would have made their way out of the Island.
     Nicolás had told me that he would leave the Island from this beach. On the day we met he told me, that he was scoping the territory, that he had stolen a formidable dinghy—those were his words, un botecito formidable—from the marina in the city where he worked as a pier scrubber and was in the process of refashioning the motor from a Russian Lada, its fan blades bent and bowed into double propellers. When I finally saw the thing, hidden in the shadows of his mother’s henhouse, it was no more than a leaky rowboat.
     Noah building the ark, hidden in the shitdusty shadows of his mother’s henhouse as tourists ate their dinners a few paces away, and the starved chickens pecked at the dirt in his toenails. He was already dying the day I met him. Soon, las viejas of el Comité would notify the thugs from the Ministry of Health, who would grab him and take him in for a test and later deliver his mother a mimeographed letter on the seriousness of her son’s condition and the precautions that she and the rest of her family should take, including sterilizing any silver or plates that he might use and boiling bedsheets after his supervised visits, or better yet, reserving these things for his use only. But on the day we first met, he still thought that he had time.
     So I came to this puta beach with his mother on Mondays to commemorate him, to pilfer time back, as if it were being peddled from darkened rooms with okra and plátanos.
     Cecilia darted into the waters in front of me, knocked my hands from my hips, caressed my face with a calloused palm, and kissed me on the cheek. Mi mulatico tan lindo, she said and walked back to the spot on the beach where I had dropped my shirt, picked it up, and continued following me. I sat on the shore and she joined me, watching a pair of amateur fishermen on an inner-tube raft returning for the day, at first sight, their balsa not so different from the ones used by the many that had left this beach never to be seen again. They wore nothing but frayed straw hats and threadbare swim trunks that fell from their bony hips. They were young, no older than me, but they moved with the resignation of the elderly, their sleek eel-like brown bodies bent at the middle with obeisance. They had caught nothing. They tossed their empty nets on the shore and sat by them, as if mourning some giant sea monster that had beached itself. The water rose slowly around them and caressed their long still legs and their bottoms, and then it ebbed just as slowly, as if it wanted to linger there.
     I kept my eyes on the boys. How does the coast guard know who is leaving and who is just fishing? I asked.
     They don’t, Cecilia answered. They guess.
     Maybe I’ll become a fisherman.
     You’ll die of hunger, she said and added that if I stayed with her, I would never die of hunger. That she could promise. She picked up a handful of sand and smashed it on my belly.
     I threw the sand back at her. Gran cosa. I’ll die an old man serving tourists boliche and arroz con pollo.
     She stood up. It’s a good life, Rafa. She turned her back to the sea. Good enough.
     I kept my eyes on the fishermen, intently enough for her to take it as an affront. After a while, she put the shirt back on my shoulder, careful not to brush my bare skin.
     I’ll be in the car when you’re ready.
     Later that night, I knew she would watch me sleep, as she had clandestinely watched us in the henhouse when I was with her son. She waited one or two hours till after I had gone to bed, after I had helped her and her Haitian-Dominican cook, Inocente St. Louis, with the prep work for the following day, snipping the dark skinny innards from shrimps, chopping vegetables, baking bread, then she sat in the shadows of the kitchen sipping spicy rum, hoping comandante Juan wouldn’t come by, hoping she could just be by herself for a bit till I fell asleep.
     Mondays were the only time she did this, she would admit to me much later that summer, when the bombs forced us to remain alone in the house. Every other night there was too much to do for such boberías, the last diner would often not leave the brick-paved patio until the early hours of the morning. She had heard once from comandante Juan that the best restaurants in Paris often close down on Monday nights, so she had decided to do the same. On those nights, she watched me, watched me as she could not watch me during the day, as she could not watch me after the bustling nights feeding the hungry Yuma, watched me on the tiny bed that had belonged to her younger son, my long body rolled up into it, like a serpent into a basket. When I stirred, stretching so that my legs lengthened off the bed, the toes open like fingers, she moved back, not wanting to get caught, till my body softened again and curled itself back into the tiny bed. I was like some boneless creature in my sleep, she confessed that summer.
     On Monday nights, she didn’t sleep. Sometimes on Tuesdays, while she and comandante Juan were readying for the lunch service, I said to her that she had wandered into my dreams. Comandante Juan teased me, told me boys shouldn’t dream about real women, leave that to los hombres, and he reached for her with his fat fingers like a clumsy boy reaching for a plaza pigeon.
Praise for Sacrificio

A Most Anticipated Book in New York Magazine, Vulture, Buzzfeed, Bustle, The Millions, Dandelion Chandelier, and SheReads
An Editors’ Pick in BOMB Magazine, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews

An Oprah Daily Favorite Book of 2022
A Brooklyn Public Library Favorite Book of 2022

A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2022

“[Sacrificio] imagines an extreme counterrevolutionary movement during desperate times . . . To Rafael’s bildungsroman amid half-cocked terrorists and a love triangle with their leaders, add a spy-novel parody, a kaleidoscopic Christ narrative, a battery of literary references and a portrait of Cuban life under socialism.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Through these characters and their desperation to move their country forward, we witness a complex Cuban history rife with political intrigue and plagued by the long shadow of poverty.”
—Oprah Daily

“Kaleidoscopic, mixing a coming-of-age story with elements of a spy novel and mordant political commentary. Offering an evocative portrait of the difficulties of life for the average Cuban during the 'Special Period,' Sacrificio is a dizzying, captivating reading experience.”
The Gay & Lesbian Review

“A darkly funny fever dream that’s somewhere between historical fiction, a spy novel, and a bildungsroman . . . Sacrificio explores young queer life under Castro’s rule, blending striking historical details with mesmerizing visions of how a rebellion led by those on the fringes might look.”
—Them

“Flourishing in its suspense and realism, the novel tells a story of recovery and resistance; Rafa puts his grief to work as he grapples with the political deeds of the deceased and the death-dealing of the state that looms over them all.”
—Vulture

“A sprawling historical novel that manages to be intimate in its humanity, Sacrificio drew me in and held me in its grip until the very last page . . . Funny and daring, with a plot that will keep readers guessing until the very end, this is the perfect read for anyone looking for fiction that is epic and socially conscious. Its length may seem daunting at first, but trust me, you won’t be able to put it down.”
—Buzzfeed

Sacrificio itself is many different books in one: a pandemic story, an intricate portrait of queer love, and a fever dream of place, time, and desire. Perhaps above all, Sacrificio is a spy novel that—like Lauren Wilkinson’s American Spy (2019) or Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke (2007)—redefines what a spy novel can be . . . Here, the spies, counterspies, secret police, and insurgents are people at the margins, those whom society has rejected and forgotten. For Los Injected Ones, a body, even one that is faltering, one that is ostracized for carrying a disease, can catalyze a rebellion.”
BOMB Magazine

“The narrative rushes with a fatalistic and cascading force between past and present. The torrents of revolution play out as terrorism and espionage roil. Food and sex provide rare respite from self-destruction, a love born of grief, and the shattered idealism that accompanies the dissolution of Socialist dreams.”
—Electric Literature

“An incredible tale told with wit and dark humor, weaving revolution, love, and AIDS in 1990s Cuba.”
—Brooklyn Public Library

“Amazing . . . [Sacrificio] explores not only politics, especially the Castro government, but also the social, health, and economic crisis that was happening in Cuba at the time.”
—Al Día News

“Through a sophisticated, layered network of stories within dialogues within stories, the novel becomes a shifting mosaic that explores Cuban history, queerness, and identity . . . [D]epicts Cuba’s underground queer culture in fascinating detail.”
—Apartment Therapy, “If You’re Going to Read One Book in September, Make It This One”

“Combining Cuban history and queer survival all wrapped in a compelling mystery, this enigmatic novel is a spellbinding success.”
The Bay Area Reporter

“A novel that shows the extremes people go to for what they believe. It’s at once a thrilling, fast-paced adventure and a mournful coming-of-age tale about the harsh realities of life.”
—Scribd

Sacrificio is an explosive, propulsive, utterly captivating novel. It is a feast of ideas and ideals, intrigue and passion, love and revolution; but above all it is a feast of language. You won't be able to put it down, and even if you could you wouldn't want to.”
—Justin Taylor, author of Riding with the Ghost

“Compelling and sinuous, bleak and darkly funny, Sacrificio is a book about queer desire, the mutability of language, and layer upon layer of deceit: self-deception, family betrayals, and the disinformation of spies and governments. Mestre-Reed’s prose is frenetic, wry, and utterly charming—I’d follow these characters anywhere.”
—Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light

“Lush, dreamy descriptions contrast with grim fatalism in Sacrificio, a transcendent novel that catalogs the many ways that humans can hurt each other, and that a society can fall apart.”
Foreword Reviews, Starred Review

“Mestre-Reed combines elements of a spy novel and political thriller with bleak, steely-eyed realism about Cuba in the 1990s . . . A compelling, melancholy novel that explores the beautiful rise and often violent breakdown of dreams, ideals, and love.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“A bold and suspenseful story of resistance in late 1990s Cuba . . . This tautly plotted story keeps the reader guessing until the end. Mestre-Reed succeeds at capturing life on the margins of Castro’s Cuba in this stirring tale.”
—Publishers Weekly

“For readers willing to give themselves over to a narrative that twists and turns through Havana's streets, churches, hotels, backyard restaurants and many secrets, the rewards of Sacrificio are plentiful.”
BookPage

Praise for
The Second Death of Única Aveyano

“Ernesto Mestre-Reed is a masterful observer, the creator of dazzling word portraits: here the manifold details of family and romantic life, the subtlest shift of facial expression, the minor disappointments of any day, the most elusive yet crushing emotion, are all captured in poetic and daring prose. This novel, the story-fable of one family caught up in the tragedy of contemporary Cuba, draws its authority and unforgettable emotional power from that luminous intimacy.”
—Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name

“[A] weird and often wonderful novel . . . Funny and gut-wrenching.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“A powerful, funny, resonant tale of one extraordinary woman and the many lives she graces and ruins. Unica Aveyano is as poignant and compelling and concentratedly Cubana as they come.”
—Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban
 
“Ernesto Mestre-Reed is among the most gifted and accomplished storytellers to emerge from the Cuban diaspora. Mestre-Reed's Cubans—whether in exile or on the island—are as deftly drawn as Roth's Jews of Newark. The Second Death of Única Aveyano makes clear to all this author's soaring artistry and power.”
—Anna Louise Bardach, author of Cuba Confidential
 
“This book is important, even daring, in its weaving of the magical spiritual lives of its characters with historical and political realities surrounding them . . . The novel is gorgeously sculpted and breathtaking in its scope.”
—Carolyn Ferrell, author of Dear Miss Metropolitan

Praise for Ernesto Mestre-Reed


“A marvelously poetic meditation on time and memory . . . Ernesto Mestre-Reed has managed to write a work of fiction that, like all great art, both captures and transcends the life of its subject, and that has the capacity to transform for the better the lives of all who come in contact with it.”
—The Washington Post

“The enormous influence of Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude on Latin American literature bears its finest fruit so far in this stunning exploration of the Castro Revolutions roots, character, and consequences . . . dizzyingly complex . . . Seldom has the folly of utopian dreaming been dramatized with such fine frenzied ingenuity.”
—Kirkus Reviews

About

Set in Cuba in 1998, Sacrificio is a triumphant and mesmeric work of violence, loss, and identity, following a group of young HIV-positive counterrevolutionaries who seek to overthrow the Castro government.

Cuba, 1998: Rafa, an Afro-Cuban orphan, moves to Havana with nothing to his name and falls into a job at a café. He is soon drawn into a web of ever-shifting entanglements with his boss’s son, the charismatic Renato, leader of the counterrevolutionary group “Los Injected Ones,” which is planning a violent overthrow of the Castro government during Pope John Paul II’s upcoming visit.
 
When Renato goes missing, Rafa’s search for his friend takes him through various haunts in Havana: from an AIDS sanatorium, to the guest rooms of tourist hotels, to the outskirts of the capital, where he enters a phantasmagorical slum cobbled together from the city’s detritus by Los Injected Ones.
 
A novel of cascading prose that captures a nation in slow collapse, Sacrificio is a visionary work, capturing the fury, passion, fatalism, and grim humor of young lives lived at the margins of a society they desperately wish to change.

Author

Ernesto Mestre-Reed was born in Guantánamo, Cuba, and lives in New York City. He is the author of the novels The Lazarus Rumba and The Second Death of Única Aveyano. He is a Guggenheim Fiction Fellow and a MacDowell Fellow and teaches at Brooklyn College. He has also translated many novels from Spanish, including Laura Esquivel’s Malinche.

Excerpt

PARADE OF MONDAYS
 
In the early weeks of that long summer of 1997, before the bombs started going off in the capital, Cecilia came with me one last time on the Monday road trip to the village of Cojímar to help me mourn her oldest son.
     As we strolled on the beach, she took my hand, and some time must have passed before I noticed, for I continued to look out to the sea and at first did not see our bodies merge in front of us as she leaned into me. It’s a sign, she told me, pointing with her other hand to our single bulging shadow. The contorted passing of a onewinged bird, she said. A sign, también, that I did not notice these things, she added.
     Shadows.
     A useless solitary wing.
     Every Monday morning, we drove the two dozen miles from the house on Calle Obispo in Old Havana to this barren fishing village that el pendejo Hemingway had made famous with his little fishing novel, and we sat, or strolled, or looked out to the sea—the place where her son, Nicolás, had picked me up a year and a half before. We ate the lunch that Cecilia had prepared perched on a sea wall outside La Terraza, a restaurant from where dishfaced Yuma—the tourists—stared out at the crystalline sea with etherized gazes.
     I thought us as hapless and doomed as the poor old man of that novel. Other times, I wasn’t that dramático. As Cecilia liked to point out: I was bored, dreaming about things that didn’t exist in the Island. They never have. Did I know, she asked, that when the yanquis had made the film of the novel with Meester Spencer Tracy they had to go all the way down to the coast of South America because Cuban marlin rarely jump out of the water? And yanquis need that. Things jumping out. Why? I asked, playing along, not remembering if the marlin in the book jumped out. Why don’t Cuban marlin jump out? Too passive, just like the rest of us, como cualquier cubano.
     I snapped my hand free and waded into the sea, the water chattering on the crushed-shells shore so that I couldn’t hear her sighs. She came there with me from the capital to appease me. Because I insisted, she reminded me. So many more productive things she could do with her Mondays. Vegetables and fruit to buy for the paladar. The earlier in the week the fresher the black-market produce, brought into the city on Sunday nights from nearby illicit farms, full crates of okra and plátanos and boniatos hidden under dusty blankets and peddled from darkened parlors—though the State had eased the restrictions on private enterprise, no one really was sure how much. Not even the inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture knew, so they made up the rules as they went along. There were the crazy skeletal chickens to feed and their meager miniscule soft-shelled eggs to gather—flyers to get out to the hotels. Poor Juan couldn’t do it all, Cecilia said. It’s enough that he rents us a car for the day. Though it was, I knew, not rented at all, but one of the many máquinas privadas that comandante Juan owned and rented himself to taxistas in the capital to shuttle tourists around. Cecilia sacrificed her Mondays to come with me, to morbidly memorialize her dead older son, as she put it, and once here, coño, I ignored her.
     I let her follow a few silent paces behind me as I trekked from one end of the rocky beach to the other, back and forth, back and forth, patrolling the shore as if not to let the endless parade of Mondays escape from us, mount a rickety balsa, and leave us forever. Soon, I feared, our weeks would be a day shorter—all the Mondays would have made their way out of the Island.
     Nicolás had told me that he would leave the Island from this beach. On the day we met he told me, that he was scoping the territory, that he had stolen a formidable dinghy—those were his words, un botecito formidable—from the marina in the city where he worked as a pier scrubber and was in the process of refashioning the motor from a Russian Lada, its fan blades bent and bowed into double propellers. When I finally saw the thing, hidden in the shadows of his mother’s henhouse, it was no more than a leaky rowboat.
     Noah building the ark, hidden in the shitdusty shadows of his mother’s henhouse as tourists ate their dinners a few paces away, and the starved chickens pecked at the dirt in his toenails. He was already dying the day I met him. Soon, las viejas of el Comité would notify the thugs from the Ministry of Health, who would grab him and take him in for a test and later deliver his mother a mimeographed letter on the seriousness of her son’s condition and the precautions that she and the rest of her family should take, including sterilizing any silver or plates that he might use and boiling bedsheets after his supervised visits, or better yet, reserving these things for his use only. But on the day we first met, he still thought that he had time.
     So I came to this puta beach with his mother on Mondays to commemorate him, to pilfer time back, as if it were being peddled from darkened rooms with okra and plátanos.
     Cecilia darted into the waters in front of me, knocked my hands from my hips, caressed my face with a calloused palm, and kissed me on the cheek. Mi mulatico tan lindo, she said and walked back to the spot on the beach where I had dropped my shirt, picked it up, and continued following me. I sat on the shore and she joined me, watching a pair of amateur fishermen on an inner-tube raft returning for the day, at first sight, their balsa not so different from the ones used by the many that had left this beach never to be seen again. They wore nothing but frayed straw hats and threadbare swim trunks that fell from their bony hips. They were young, no older than me, but they moved with the resignation of the elderly, their sleek eel-like brown bodies bent at the middle with obeisance. They had caught nothing. They tossed their empty nets on the shore and sat by them, as if mourning some giant sea monster that had beached itself. The water rose slowly around them and caressed their long still legs and their bottoms, and then it ebbed just as slowly, as if it wanted to linger there.
     I kept my eyes on the boys. How does the coast guard know who is leaving and who is just fishing? I asked.
     They don’t, Cecilia answered. They guess.
     Maybe I’ll become a fisherman.
     You’ll die of hunger, she said and added that if I stayed with her, I would never die of hunger. That she could promise. She picked up a handful of sand and smashed it on my belly.
     I threw the sand back at her. Gran cosa. I’ll die an old man serving tourists boliche and arroz con pollo.
     She stood up. It’s a good life, Rafa. She turned her back to the sea. Good enough.
     I kept my eyes on the fishermen, intently enough for her to take it as an affront. After a while, she put the shirt back on my shoulder, careful not to brush my bare skin.
     I’ll be in the car when you’re ready.
     Later that night, I knew she would watch me sleep, as she had clandestinely watched us in the henhouse when I was with her son. She waited one or two hours till after I had gone to bed, after I had helped her and her Haitian-Dominican cook, Inocente St. Louis, with the prep work for the following day, snipping the dark skinny innards from shrimps, chopping vegetables, baking bread, then she sat in the shadows of the kitchen sipping spicy rum, hoping comandante Juan wouldn’t come by, hoping she could just be by herself for a bit till I fell asleep.
     Mondays were the only time she did this, she would admit to me much later that summer, when the bombs forced us to remain alone in the house. Every other night there was too much to do for such boberías, the last diner would often not leave the brick-paved patio until the early hours of the morning. She had heard once from comandante Juan that the best restaurants in Paris often close down on Monday nights, so she had decided to do the same. On those nights, she watched me, watched me as she could not watch me during the day, as she could not watch me after the bustling nights feeding the hungry Yuma, watched me on the tiny bed that had belonged to her younger son, my long body rolled up into it, like a serpent into a basket. When I stirred, stretching so that my legs lengthened off the bed, the toes open like fingers, she moved back, not wanting to get caught, till my body softened again and curled itself back into the tiny bed. I was like some boneless creature in my sleep, she confessed that summer.
     On Monday nights, she didn’t sleep. Sometimes on Tuesdays, while she and comandante Juan were readying for the lunch service, I said to her that she had wandered into my dreams. Comandante Juan teased me, told me boys shouldn’t dream about real women, leave that to los hombres, and he reached for her with his fat fingers like a clumsy boy reaching for a plaza pigeon.

Praise

Praise for Sacrificio

A Most Anticipated Book in New York Magazine, Vulture, Buzzfeed, Bustle, The Millions, Dandelion Chandelier, and SheReads
An Editors’ Pick in BOMB Magazine, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews

An Oprah Daily Favorite Book of 2022
A Brooklyn Public Library Favorite Book of 2022

A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2022

“[Sacrificio] imagines an extreme counterrevolutionary movement during desperate times . . . To Rafael’s bildungsroman amid half-cocked terrorists and a love triangle with their leaders, add a spy-novel parody, a kaleidoscopic Christ narrative, a battery of literary references and a portrait of Cuban life under socialism.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Through these characters and their desperation to move their country forward, we witness a complex Cuban history rife with political intrigue and plagued by the long shadow of poverty.”
—Oprah Daily

“Kaleidoscopic, mixing a coming-of-age story with elements of a spy novel and mordant political commentary. Offering an evocative portrait of the difficulties of life for the average Cuban during the 'Special Period,' Sacrificio is a dizzying, captivating reading experience.”
The Gay & Lesbian Review

“A darkly funny fever dream that’s somewhere between historical fiction, a spy novel, and a bildungsroman . . . Sacrificio explores young queer life under Castro’s rule, blending striking historical details with mesmerizing visions of how a rebellion led by those on the fringes might look.”
—Them

“Flourishing in its suspense and realism, the novel tells a story of recovery and resistance; Rafa puts his grief to work as he grapples with the political deeds of the deceased and the death-dealing of the state that looms over them all.”
—Vulture

“A sprawling historical novel that manages to be intimate in its humanity, Sacrificio drew me in and held me in its grip until the very last page . . . Funny and daring, with a plot that will keep readers guessing until the very end, this is the perfect read for anyone looking for fiction that is epic and socially conscious. Its length may seem daunting at first, but trust me, you won’t be able to put it down.”
—Buzzfeed

Sacrificio itself is many different books in one: a pandemic story, an intricate portrait of queer love, and a fever dream of place, time, and desire. Perhaps above all, Sacrificio is a spy novel that—like Lauren Wilkinson’s American Spy (2019) or Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke (2007)—redefines what a spy novel can be . . . Here, the spies, counterspies, secret police, and insurgents are people at the margins, those whom society has rejected and forgotten. For Los Injected Ones, a body, even one that is faltering, one that is ostracized for carrying a disease, can catalyze a rebellion.”
BOMB Magazine

“The narrative rushes with a fatalistic and cascading force between past and present. The torrents of revolution play out as terrorism and espionage roil. Food and sex provide rare respite from self-destruction, a love born of grief, and the shattered idealism that accompanies the dissolution of Socialist dreams.”
—Electric Literature

“An incredible tale told with wit and dark humor, weaving revolution, love, and AIDS in 1990s Cuba.”
—Brooklyn Public Library

“Amazing . . . [Sacrificio] explores not only politics, especially the Castro government, but also the social, health, and economic crisis that was happening in Cuba at the time.”
—Al Día News

“Through a sophisticated, layered network of stories within dialogues within stories, the novel becomes a shifting mosaic that explores Cuban history, queerness, and identity . . . [D]epicts Cuba’s underground queer culture in fascinating detail.”
—Apartment Therapy, “If You’re Going to Read One Book in September, Make It This One”

“Combining Cuban history and queer survival all wrapped in a compelling mystery, this enigmatic novel is a spellbinding success.”
The Bay Area Reporter

“A novel that shows the extremes people go to for what they believe. It’s at once a thrilling, fast-paced adventure and a mournful coming-of-age tale about the harsh realities of life.”
—Scribd

Sacrificio is an explosive, propulsive, utterly captivating novel. It is a feast of ideas and ideals, intrigue and passion, love and revolution; but above all it is a feast of language. You won't be able to put it down, and even if you could you wouldn't want to.”
—Justin Taylor, author of Riding with the Ghost

“Compelling and sinuous, bleak and darkly funny, Sacrificio is a book about queer desire, the mutability of language, and layer upon layer of deceit: self-deception, family betrayals, and the disinformation of spies and governments. Mestre-Reed’s prose is frenetic, wry, and utterly charming—I’d follow these characters anywhere.”
—Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light

“Lush, dreamy descriptions contrast with grim fatalism in Sacrificio, a transcendent novel that catalogs the many ways that humans can hurt each other, and that a society can fall apart.”
Foreword Reviews, Starred Review

“Mestre-Reed combines elements of a spy novel and political thriller with bleak, steely-eyed realism about Cuba in the 1990s . . . A compelling, melancholy novel that explores the beautiful rise and often violent breakdown of dreams, ideals, and love.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“A bold and suspenseful story of resistance in late 1990s Cuba . . . This tautly plotted story keeps the reader guessing until the end. Mestre-Reed succeeds at capturing life on the margins of Castro’s Cuba in this stirring tale.”
—Publishers Weekly

“For readers willing to give themselves over to a narrative that twists and turns through Havana's streets, churches, hotels, backyard restaurants and many secrets, the rewards of Sacrificio are plentiful.”
BookPage

Praise for
The Second Death of Única Aveyano

“Ernesto Mestre-Reed is a masterful observer, the creator of dazzling word portraits: here the manifold details of family and romantic life, the subtlest shift of facial expression, the minor disappointments of any day, the most elusive yet crushing emotion, are all captured in poetic and daring prose. This novel, the story-fable of one family caught up in the tragedy of contemporary Cuba, draws its authority and unforgettable emotional power from that luminous intimacy.”
—Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name

“[A] weird and often wonderful novel . . . Funny and gut-wrenching.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“A powerful, funny, resonant tale of one extraordinary woman and the many lives she graces and ruins. Unica Aveyano is as poignant and compelling and concentratedly Cubana as they come.”
—Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban
 
“Ernesto Mestre-Reed is among the most gifted and accomplished storytellers to emerge from the Cuban diaspora. Mestre-Reed's Cubans—whether in exile or on the island—are as deftly drawn as Roth's Jews of Newark. The Second Death of Única Aveyano makes clear to all this author's soaring artistry and power.”
—Anna Louise Bardach, author of Cuba Confidential
 
“This book is important, even daring, in its weaving of the magical spiritual lives of its characters with historical and political realities surrounding them . . . The novel is gorgeously sculpted and breathtaking in its scope.”
—Carolyn Ferrell, author of Dear Miss Metropolitan

Praise for Ernesto Mestre-Reed


“A marvelously poetic meditation on time and memory . . . Ernesto Mestre-Reed has managed to write a work of fiction that, like all great art, both captures and transcends the life of its subject, and that has the capacity to transform for the better the lives of all who come in contact with it.”
—The Washington Post

“The enormous influence of Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude on Latin American literature bears its finest fruit so far in this stunning exploration of the Castro Revolutions roots, character, and consequences . . . dizzyingly complex . . . Seldom has the folly of utopian dreaming been dramatized with such fine frenzied ingenuity.”
—Kirkus Reviews

PRH Education High School Collections

All reading communities should contain protected time for the sake of reading. Independent reading practices emphasize the process of making meaning through reading, not an end product. The school culture (teachers, administration, etc.) should affirm this daily practice time as inherently important instructional time for all readers. (NCTE, 2019)   The Penguin Random House High

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PRH Education Translanguaging Collections

Translanguaging is a communicative practice of bilinguals and multilinguals, that is, it is a practice whereby bilinguals and multilinguals use their entire linguistic repertoire to communicate and make meaning (García, 2009; García, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017)   It is through that lens that we have partnered with teacher educators and bilingual education experts, Drs.

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PRH Education Classroom Libraries

“Books are a students’ passport to entering and actively participating in a global society with the empathy, compassion, and knowledge it takes to become the problem solvers the world needs.” –Laura Robb   Research shows that reading and literacy directly impacts students’ academic success and personal growth. To help promote the importance of daily independent

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