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Call Me Cassandra

A novel by

“Dazzling." —Marcela Valdes, The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

"A spellbinding novel by one of the best writers of the Americas." —Junot Díaz, author of This is How You Lose Her

Ten-year-old Rauli lives in a world that is often hostile. His older brother is violent; his philandering father doesn’t understand him; his intelligence and sensitivity do not endear him to the other children at school. He loves to read, especially Greek myths, but in Cuba in the 1970s, novels and gods can be dangerous. Despite the signs that warn Rauli to repress and fear what he is, he knows three things to be true: First, that he was born in the wrong body. Second, that he will die, aged eighteen, as a soldier in the Cuban intervention in Angola. And third, that he is the reincarnation of the Trojan princess Cassandra.

Moving between Rauli’s childhood and adolescence, between the Angolan battlefield, the Cuban city of Cienfuegos, and the shores of ancient Troy, Marcial Gala’s Call Me Cassandra tells of the search for identity amid the collapse of Cuba’s utopian dreams. Burdened with knowledge of tragedies yet to come, Rauli nonetheless strives to know himself. Lyrical and gritty, heartbreaking and luminous, Rauli’s is the story of the inexorable pull of destiny.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"It has been many years since I read a novel that excited me so much and so deeply. Marcial Gala surprises in the dexterity, audacity and elegance with which he articulates a very original fictional mechanism, creating a narrator who remembers the future as much as the past-but is condemned to have no one believe his predictions. Call Me Cassandra takes a brave and sensitive look at Cuba's participation in the Angolan civil war. If there are books that restore our faith in literature, and literature's ability to make the other known to us, this is one of them." - José Eduardo Agualusa

"I admire greatly the nimbleness of Marcial Gala's prose, the way his sentences swing effortlessly from emotional ruin to beauty to gallows hilarity and back again. As the storyline cuts between Rauli's childhood in Cienfuegos and his life as a soldier in Angola, a portrait of an unforgettable and defiant spirit emerges. Call Me Cassandra is a searching and uncompromising story about the vast complexities of displacement, the breathtaking power of the imagination, and the tidal pull of fate. I love this novel." - Laura van den Berg

"A spellbinding novel by one of the best writers of the Americas. Call Me Cassandra is Marcial Gala's masterpiece, blending Greek myth with the Cuban intervention in Angola. At the heart of this incandescent tales burns sensitive Rauli, caught between the Gods and the Revolution, between a body that he longs to escape and a world that lets no one like him escape. Call Me Cassandra is Chronicle of a Death Foretold but blacker and brilliantly better." - Junot Díaz

"Rich, haunting, dark and superbly alluring, Call Me Cassandra is a vivid, intoxicating novel that takes us into the dreamy daily life of a trans girl in the barracks of the Cuban army in Angola. Marcial Gala is one of the most brilliant storytellers working in the Americas today, and this is the kind of book of hope, sex, and the power of imagination that makes you want to join a revolution." - Pola Oloixarac

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