Dancing to Almendra by Mayra Montero


An opaquely told story of the mob figures and other rare characters in Havana in the 50s, Dancing to Almendra often left me confused.  The main narrator is an ambitious young journalist who is told that the escape and killing of a hippopotamus is a message sent too late to a mob figure who had recently been killed in the U.S.  Interesting idea, but mystifying.  A few of the characters who appear include a one-armed former circus performer (lover of the journalist), Meyer Lansky, George Raft, a would-be George Raft who was the keeper of the hippo at the zoo.  The title refers to a dance "of the almond" which the journalist observed when he was a child smitten with his friend’s mother that she had apparently with Meyer Lansky.  The mysteries extend to the Author’s Note, which thanks, among others, a person whose name she cannot mention.

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