- Paperback: 320 pages
- Published: 9/4/12
- IBSN: 9781617751264
- e-IBSN: 9781617751400
- IBSN: 9781617751073
- Genre: Fiction
A mesmerizing fictional account of the life of Miguel de Cervantes and the controversial anonymous “sequel” to Don Quixote.
Named a Latinidad List Best Book of 2012
One of Queerty‘s 5 Must-Reads for Fall
“Mr. Manrique structures his book around a literary mystery . . . Above all, though, Cervantes Street is exciting to read . . . Under Mr. Manrique’s pen, the world of Renaissance Spain and the Mediterranean is made vivid, its surface crackling with sudden violence and cruelty but marked too by unexpected kindness and respites . . . This novel can be read as a generous salute across the centuries from one writer to another, as a sympathetic homage and recommendation . . . Cervantes Street brings to life the real world behind the fantastic exploits of the knight of La Mancha. The comic mishaps are funnier for being based on fact. The romantic adventures are more affecting. Cervantes Street has sent me back to Don Quixote.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Manrique adopts a florid, epic style for his tale of 16th-century Spain, one with the quality of a tall tale told by a troubadour rather than written on the page. He ably captures the human qualities of the legendary writer, as well as his swashbuckling.”
“Manrique has penned a well-written, well-researched, fast-paced narrative . . . An entertaining book . . . and a superb retelling of Cervantes’s life.”
“Author Jaime Manrique credibly fills in the unknowns in this passionate and evocative novel . . . Cervantes Street is historical fiction at its best. Compact and intense, it is consistent with all that we know of Cervantes’ life yet rich in invention. The characters are wonderfully drawn, the environments are detailed and colorful and the feeling is genuine . . . Cervantes Street is a gripping, adventuresome novel with profound insight into the ways in which we choose our destiny.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Manrique’s own strokes of literary genius are highlighted . . . An inventive novel fortified with humor, history and graceful writing, Cervantes Street is a mesmerizing literary achievement.”
—El Paso Times
“Manrique’s work provides diverting fun for those familiar with the greatest work of Spanish literature and its many digressions.”
—Historical Novels Review
“Readers the of engrossing Captain Alatriste novels might think they know what to expect from Jaime Manrique’s absorbing novel, Cervantes Street . . . Hold onto your hats because Manrique has crafted a brilliant pastiche of a Spanish picaresque romance infected by a tip of the inkhorn’s quill to northern Europe’s euphuistic tradition and a historian’s purview. Cervantes Street has a subtle academic subtext, a professor’s illustrated lecture in rhetorical history and progenitors of the modern novel . . . Jaime Manrique’s diverting, fun, swift odyssey into Cervantes’ travels that inform his famous work, puts tall tales where they belong, in capable fiction . . . Readers unprepared for belly laughs are advised not to enjoy a tasty beverage while reading this . . . Readers unprepared for a good time will find double reward if they’re lucky enough to stumble upon Jaime Manrique’s Cervantes Street. Readers who seek out Akashic Books’ reliably entertaining releases will marvel that the publisher and author have a winner. If your indie bookseller stocks it, Cervantes Street should be in your hands.”
“Jaime Manrique’s Cervantes Street is a picturesque imagining of the great Spanish master’s epic life . . . Manrique embellishes a swashbuckling biography to offer a captivating vision of Late Renaissance Spain . . . By turns historical and inventive, Manrique expertly depicts a bygone era in ways that resonate with contemporary life.”
“The life and times of Miguel de Cervantes come to life in the transitions of Jaime Manrique’s novel, Cervantes Street . . . a robust and magnetic story.”
“The novel is exciting, paced well, interesting and with a literary mystery to boot.”
“A sprawling vivacious big-hearted novel. Manrique is fantastically talented and this is perhaps his masterpiece.”
—Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
“Cervantes like we’ve never known him: the rogue, the lover, the soldier, the slave, and above all, the poet. In this novel, Jaime Manrique reminds us that the great writer was a man of flesh and blood whose eventful life seemed destined for great literature.”
—Esmeralda Santiago, author of Conquistadora
“Jaime Manrique has written an exceptional historical novel, recreating with imagination and detailed accuracy the world of Late Renaissance in Spain. Manrique’s rendering of the life of Cervantes is brilliant, and his solution to the mystery of who wrote the false Quixote is fascinating, and very persuasive.”
—Edith Grossman, translator of Miguel de Cervantes and Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“A delicious novel in which Don Miguel de Cervantes is forever persecuted by the envious Avellaneda, his mimetic double and spiteful rival in matters of love as well as letters. A fascinating tale of compulsive antagonism, in the vein of Feraud/D’Hubert from The Duellists, or Salieri/Mozart in Amadeus.”
—Laura Restrepo, author of Delirium
The actual facts of Miguel de Cervantes’s life seem to be snatched from an epic tale: an impoverished and talented young poet nearly kills a man in a duel and is forced into exile; later, he distinguishes himself in battle and is severely wounded, losing the use of his left hand; on his way back to Spain his ship is captured by pirates and he is sold into slavery in Algiers; after prolonged imprisonment and failed escape attempts, he makes his way back home, eventually settling in a remote village in La Mancha to create his masterpiece, the first modern novel in Western literature: Don Quixote.
Taking the bare bones of Cervantes’s life, Jaime Manrique has accomplished a singular feat: an engaging and highly accessible interpretation of a brilliant, enigmatic man and his epoch. Manrique breathes vivid life into his characters, transporting readers viscerally into his story as he makes full use of its inherent suspense and drama, its pathos and ironies, its colorful locales and momentous events.
It all begins with two bright youths in Madrid whose rivalry over a beautiful woman will shape the course of their lives. Miguel de Cervantes is the passionate one, handsome, gifted, reckless, and ambitious, but from a family fallen on hard times and suspected of being “tainted” with Jewish blood. His classmate Luis de Lara, a wealthy but awkward aristocrat, as well as mediocre poet, from one of the most powerful families in Spain, is engaged to his beautiful cousin Mercedes. When twenty-two-year-old Miguel nearly kills someone in a tavern brawl, he is forced to flee to Seville, joining a troupe of traveling actors to escape a decree ordering that his right hand be cut off. As Luis endeavors to save his friend, he has occasion to introduce Miguel to his beloved Mercedes. To Luis’s horror, he soon discovers that the two have fallen in love. Luis becomes consumed with hatred for his former friend and swears eternal revenge.
From that moment on, the two go their separate ways, but their lives remain fatefully intertwined. The adventurous Miguel continues to visit Mercedes before going into exile; and although Mercedes eventually marries Luis, she never stops loving Miguel. The tormented Luis searches in vain to prove his superiority to his wife, and then to his son, and always with respect to his hated rival–as a poet and scholar; as a man of impeccable taste, character, and sensibilities. Completely unaware of Luis’s masked hatred of him, Miguel continues throughout his life to seek assistance from his erstwhile friend, with disastrous results. Luis watches with festering envy Miguel’s exploits as a soldier, as a servant of the crown, and above all as a writer; and he only finds pleasure in sporadic reports of his rival’s darkest hours.
Told in alternating chapters by the opposing protagonists, Manrique’s archetypal tale of rivalry and revenge is sure to garner comparisons to Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, and, with its extraordinary recreation of the life and times of Cervantes, to Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. Pirates and priests, ladies of the court and lowly prostitutes, warriors and slaves, and, yes, even the wonderful Sancho Panza are singularly brought to life in this brilliant depiction of Spain’s Golden Age.
JAIME MANRIQUE is a novelist, essayist, and poet. His critically acclaimed novels include Latin Moon in Manhattan and Our Lives Are the Rivers. He is a Distinguished Lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature in the City College of New York. Cervantes Street is his latest work.