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Most of Hijuelos’s novels deal with Cuban immigrants and their process of acculturation in America In his most interesting work, A Simple Habana Melody, he turns to Cuba, the homeland of his heritage, to explore the life of Israel Levis, a gifted and distinguished musician living in Habana (Hijuelos chooses to use the phonetic spelling of “Habana” instead of Havana.) The novel begins with Israel’s return voyage home to Habana from Europe after his captivity in the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald Having been on tour in Paris when the war hits France, Israel’s name makes his identity mistaken for a Jew, and so he is sent to a labor camp In the opening pages of the novel, he is sailing back to Habana and the story begins to work backwards With resplendent descriptions, Hijuelos covers Israel’s life from an inquisitive childhood to his successful career as a composer A bulk of the plot addresses Israel’s lifelong love affair with the elusive Rita Valladares This is a standout novel in Hijuelos’s oeuvre His prose is achingly rich and elegant with sadness and longing He captures the pristine loveliness of Cuba and an era of musical wonder in Habana before the war and the subsequent revolution with its rise of communism Hijuelos is a writer to admire for his literary gifts: the fine and precise prose, the polish evident in each of his sentences, the guilty pleasure of sensuality and eroticism in his scenes, and the immensely real and unforgettable characters he creates A Simple Habana Melody is my favorite Hijuelos novel, one in which images and passages of Cuba remain vivid like photographs in my memory. Rita Valladeres is a fascinating woman, and her time touring America as a singer of top end ability while her family unravels was quite good Unfortunately that's only about 10% of the book and the bulk of the rest is devoted to Israel Levis, a Cuban composer who just may be the Least Interesting Man in the World.Israel is good at composing and, as the author reminds us every other page, he wrote 'Rosa Puras', which Rita made her own and hundreds of musicians covered He also likes bourbon, brothels, and turning down Rita He could marry her, but, no, because reasons How about have her as a mistress when she all but throws herself at him? Again, no, because reasons And when her husband is out of the way No, again, because booze and hookers are better than the most desirable woman he's ever known apparently.Also, Israel has a big dick Hijuelos tells us this almost as frequently as he mentions 'Rosas Puras' I'm not exaggerating when I say that it is unlikely a male porn star's memoir would mention penis size as much as this novel about a composer Randomly, Israel somehow ends up in a concentration camp, because his name is Israel and he's circumcised and 'Muh Nazis' This was at least a bitinteresting, though far less plausible, than the bulk of the book a boring read about an old man come back to Havana after years in exile. The writing in this novel about the musical career of a Cuban composer is itself lyrical The narrative is prose that aspires to be, and is, both poetry and music The phrasing and the flow of the syntax is melodious as the composer's experience, because of his name, in a Nazi concentration camp runs counterpoint to the theme And Rosas Puras, his most famous and enduring composition, reappears faithfully as a leitmotif throughout the narrative El Gordito, Israel Levis, and his close relationships with Rita Valladares (singer), Manny Cortez (composer)and his family are full of tender and touching moments He is simply a man on a quest to find the beauty of life, the music hidden just beneath its surface and awaiting his discovery of its simple melodies His devotion to his music can be a demanding mistress whom he has no choice but to love with pure devotion and ultimately proves to be his salvation Hijuelos reinforces his stature as one of America's most supremely talented writers in this sensuously rich and sonorous novel The close of the book holds moments of heartbreaking tenderness without sentimentality A Simple Habana Melody is original, germinal, mesmerizing and sung in a distinctive, if not unique, lyrical voice that could only be proffered by a truly gifted writer of the stature of Oscar Hijeulos. I devoured this book I loved every word One of the most beautifully written, wonderful stories I have ever read I will certainly readfrom Senor Oscar Hijuelos. A Simple Habana Melody by Oscar Hijuelos 5/11/2019 Paper Israel Levis, a Cuban native, is a piano master of worldwide fame Much of the book takes place in his beloved Havana, tracing the time prior to Fidel Castro His talent, to a large extent based on a single popular song, has allowed him to travel the world, spending years in Paris However his heart remains at home in his beloved Habana In spite of his many sexual exploits, he remains transfixed throughout his life on singer Rita Valladares, the inspiration for his hit song He loses his motivation for music after being incorrectly identified as a Jew, and sent to a Nazi camp Through Rita’s prodding, and his mentoring of a student, he manages to regain his will to go forward This novel is an intimate study of a single character and his look at life Havana during this period of time is little known to most readers It is vividly described in this interesting and enjoyable novel. The prose was enjoyable, the reading really flowed I liked much better the first part that describes his childhood in Habana, his family life and learning music After he composes Rosas Puras, the novel turns to be very repetitive, he goes to some cities, drinks, plays, sleeps around, repeat cycle His indecision and the repetitive nature of his middle life were boring, specially all the mentions to his majestic virility, the plot only changed a bit when the Nazi enter the picture, but that wasn't explored either There were moments when I had the feeling that the Israel and the song really existed, but the fact that he met every single artist and historical figures of the time convinced me that it was all fiction The author mentions in his Author's Note that he was inspired by the life of a real Cuban composer and that his persecution in Europe, I found it curious because his life under the Nazi was hardly explored I understand that he didn't wanted to turn into The Pianist movie, but if it is only a fade into black, it misses the point I think the problem is that the novel is almost a biographical depiction of Israel's life in chronological order, but it didn't have a topic It could have easily explored the construction of identity, how music is turned into a commodity and sells some cultural apect as exotic, race as a social construct, life as an immigrant, the rapid changes of the world and Cuba, etc but it seems that wasn't the author's intention.About the edition, several accents and translations of Spanish were odd, also, there were some typos. .Book ♂ A Simple Habana Melody ☢ It is , and Israel Levis, a Cuban composer whose life had once been a dream of music, love, and sadness, returns to Cuba after being mistakenly imprisoned during the Nazi occupation of FranceWhen Levis arrives back in Habana, his mind returns to an unrequited romance with the alluring Rita Valladares, a singer for whom Levis had written his most famous song, Rosas Puras Thiscomposition became the most famous rumba in the world and changed American and European tastes in music and dance foreverA love story—of art, family, and country—A Simple Habana Melody is a virtuoso performance from one of our most important writers Reckless Traveler and Israel Levis Warren Buffett a Cuban composer whose life had once been a dream of music The Most Useful Websites love Kriza – hrvatski horror and sadness The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History returns to Cuba after being mistakenly imprisoned during the Nazi occupation of FranceWhen Levis arrives back in Habana Serbian Fairy Tales his mind returns to an unrequited romance with the alluring Rita Valladares Literistid ehk Patrik Laurise kummaline elu a singer for whom Levis had written his most famous song Seni Seven Biri Var Rosas Puras Thiscomposition became the most famous rumba in the world and changed American and European tastes in music and dance foreverA love story—of art Top Secret Mission family Proven Option Spread Trading Strategies and country—A Simple Habana Melody is a virtuoso performance from one of our most important writers Israel Levis, a fictitious character, one of the most famous Cuban pianist and composers, returns home to Cuba after spending the last 14 months in a Nazi concentration camp His most famous composition, is a rumba called Rosas Puras( his La Vie En Rose, if you will), a song written for the love of Levis' life, Rita Valladares The book goes back and forth between Israel's younger life, growing up in Cuba, happiness mixed with conflicting emotions, such as his love for Rita that he cannot verbally express, to his confusion about his own sexuality, to the horrors of Nazi occupation after he moves to France and being labeled a Jew But he always has his music to fall back on In his final days he reflects to find meaning and come to terms with everything he has been through The mix of culture, history, and music is Oscar Hijuelos at his best. As every book by Hijuelos I've read, this was sweet and had much in common with South and LatinAmerican authors I know; colours,smells, feelings: this is the essence of this book, I feel What this lacks and The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio MontezO'Brien and Mr Ives'Christmas had which this one lacks, is a really interesting story which progresses through the book I suppose that IS the idea here; a man who essentially remains the same, though partially altered by his wartime experience So; sweet, but ultimately it left me wishing for just a bit . This book is sort of two things, a story of unconsummated love between Rita and Israel and a look at the preWW2 world, particularly Cuba and Paris, through the eyes of a musician The third leg of it, if you will, is mentions of Israel's magnificent virility I read a review after the fact that mentioned the book lacked a strong narrative thread, and that's definitely the case The bulk of it is adequate, but it doesn't sing The ending is better, but it wasn't enough to lift this to 4, I think.