The words and the dead

…It’s the best thing I’ve read in the last 40 years of Cuban literature. I don’t think after El Siglo de las Luces (The Century of Lights) that any novel has been written in Cuba like The Words and the Dead. It’s amazing. Only a very good writer could accomplish this feat.”

Manuel Vázquez Portal, Cuban writer


Las palabras y los muertos, novela, Seix Barral, Amir Valle

The Words and the Dead is a rare historical novel.

Rare, because it is not (according to the definition of historical authenticity) a true historical novel; and yet, there has been no Cuban novel written in the last 50 years that has been so faithful to the country’s history. Beginning with the death of Fidel Castro, the man who has been closest to him, his favorite bodyguard, reminisces about the past 40 years, from the time that, as a child, he joined the rebels in the mountains and gained Fidel’s trust, becoming almost his shadow. Below Fidel’s gaze he becomes an accomplice, blinded by admiration and burdened by fidelity. The novel relates, with a sadistic innocence (born from the bodyguard’s childlike viewpoint), the most notable moments of the Revolution, not by recreating the official story, but by telling the story that people have formed privately, tying up the loose ends left dangling by the official history, allowing the construction of another view of that history and those momentous events. We are left with a vision that is curiously closer to the possible truth than the one offered by the official viewpoint.

This is a book where the great names become real human beings, those names that have been in the news when the subject “Cuba” was the fashion: Fidel, Ché, and many others are again in the public eye in Amir Valle’s novel, which reclaims, with a seductive narrative mastery, one of the most important themes that the best Latin American novels have offered: the story of the dictator.

Editorial Seix Barral, Colombia – for Latin America, 2007
298 pages
ISBN: 10-958-42-1563-9

Las palabras y los muertos, novela, Alemania, Amir ValleEdition Köln, Alemania, 2007
Colección: Famen und Esperanzen
366 páginas
ISBN: 978-3-936791-36-5