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The Halfway House
by Guillermo Rosales
Translated from the Spanish by Anna Kushner
Never before available in English, The Halfway House is a trip to the darkest corners of the human condition. Humiliations, filth, stench, and physical abuse comprise the asphyxiating atmosphere of a halfway house for indigents in Miami where, in a shaken mental state, the writer William Figueras lives after his exile from Cuba. He claims to have gone crazy after the Cuban government judged his first novel “morose, pornographic, and also irreverent, because it dealt harshly with the Communist Party,” and prohibited its publication. By the time he arrives in Miami twenty years later, he is a “toothless, skinny, frightened guy who had to be admitted to a psychiatric ward that very day” instead of the ready-for-success exile his relatives expected to welcome and receive among them. Placed in a halfway house, with its trapped bestial inhabitants and abusive overseers, he enters a hell. Romance appears in the form of Frances, a mentally fragile woman and an angel, with whom he tries to escape in this apocalyptic classic of Cuban literature. “Behind the hardly one hundred pages,” Canarias Diario stated, “is the work of a tireless fabulist, a writer who delights in language, extracting verbs and adjectives which are powerful enough to stop the reader in his tracks.”