Leonardo Padura's prize-winning series of novels about Cuban detective Inspector Mario Conde has changed the face of Latin American crime writing, taking a conventional formula into the category of dark and serious literary fiction. Havana Gold completes his sweeping portrait of Cuban society, seen through the ironic vision of his louche, sensual and intelligent cop. Here, Conde searches for the murderer of a teacher who has been strangled, and the quest takes him back to the school where he studied.Read More
Padura has written of Conde as whispering in the writer's ear, and of the Havana Quartet as a joint decision between character and author. Yet Conde, though he has many consolations in the form of cognac, cigars and occasional sexy women, sometimes suffers from a form of anomie that leaves him in despair. During his visit to London, I ask Padura, a man of warm and lively empathy, whether he and Conde are one and the same. He explains that Conde is a pair of spectacles through which he can observe Havana.
"Conde is fiction, but he has many of my own characteristics," he says. " We belong to the same generation. This is a very important thing in Cuba, because it's the generation that was practically born with the revolution. All my intelligent life happened with the revolution. We grew up in its romantic period – the Sixties and Seventies. I remember in school we had posters that said that the future of humanity belonged completely to the socialists.
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