Review of The Tragedy of Fidel Castro; Joao Cerqueira; River Groove Books 2013; pp 168
– Shana Susan Ninan
I’ve grown up reading extensively on Che’s and Castro’s works, as well as those written by others about these two historical figures. So when Cerqueira offered to send me his book, The Tragedy of Fidel Castro I agreed, wanting to look at a contemporary perspective. And it was worth it. I read the translated version of the book, and not the Portuguese one, which I’m sure must be pretty high on readers’ lists in the Portuguese-reading and understanding parts of the world.
This satirical piece of work fabulously weaves fictional historical and religious figures into an interesting plot. Although the author states at the beginning of the book itself that except Castro, none of the other characters – God, Christ, Fatima and JFK – have any similarities with religious or historical persons, we can cite many instances and events where the real and the imagined merge. The use of metaphors, political satire, poetic phrases and vivid imagery makes for an entertaining plot. And those familiar with Communist works as well as the Cuban revolution will be able to identify with minor characters and situations that are tapped from history.
Christ is summoned by God, on Fatima’s request, to once again visit Earth to solve a certain matter. The issue is nothing short of a battle between JFK and Castro, Capitalism taking over where Communism seemed to have failed. The book shows us a highly modernized version of God, Christ and Fatima, much like the nuclear family of today:
It was dawn when Fatima was woken by the phone ringing…. Maybe it was God himself… My son and I were thinking about the JFK-Castro war, and we came to the following conclusion… I’m going to send my son to knock some sense into them, and I need your help.
In between chapters, the author’s own opinion come across strongly, leaving the reader no room to formulate his own. In a way, that’s good; especially, considering the genre of the book – alternative history. Even after more than four decades after Che’s death, and the downside of Communism revealed in the following years, Fidel Castro is still a large and looming figure in history.
The end of Communism can’t have been better captured than on the striking and symbolic cover picture – a skull with a cigar in its mouth, curly black smoke rising up, and the word ‘tragedy’ written in red. And I loved the coined term for Christ – International Conflict Mediator.