Oscar Hijuelos – The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

Mambo Kings Play Songs of LoveJust to clear the air about this book before I keep bringing out this one fault with this novel throughout my review of it, this is an explicit novel. There is only one other book that I can compare to the explicit sexual nature of this novel and that is Junot Diaz’s Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I loved both books, but both of them are not novels I would recommend to my mother because of the sexual nature of both books. Now sex is a central issue to both books and are used purposefully, mostly, and it is an ingrained thing in both cultures the author is trying to portray which is meaningful but beyond that there is still an overwhelming amount of sexual encounters in both books. All of that said, I must comment more thoroughly on this incredible work.

I put this novel down several times in the last year. I don’t remember when I first started it, it could be as long ago as March, and I have finished several novels in between, but my steel-trap mind for text wouldn’t let this novel and its characters escape me. When I picked it back up recently, I had to get reacquainted with the characters shortly, but after that it was as if I hadn’t missed a beat. The characters are fantastic, they are hate-able, lovable, pitiable, and admirable at times. This novel runs the gambit of human emotions and takes into its view all of this character and this cultures existence. I was in love with sections of this book. There are times when I was totally enchanted with stories and times in Cesar’s recollection, times I didn’t want to end, but knew they would and hoped that they would as dignified as they deserved. I dreaded the ending of this novel, because I knew it was coming but Hijuelos dignifies his character with an ending befitting him. The ending is a swell of emotions that my heart was almost not big enough to contain. I loved the ending of this novel. I loved sections of it, I could really forget a few portions of it, I couldn’t wait for other sections to end, but all in all, I really appreciated having to have to read this book. If I wasn’t forced to and someone had casually recommended it, I would have put it down as I did in March and never picked it back up and wouldn’t have been rewarded with its ending. Hijuelos is a fantastic writer and I will read more of his work after this project is over, I am glad he won for this novel.


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