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Jane Mendelsohn, 23 September 1993

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love 
by Oscar Hijuelos.
Penguin, 416 pp., £4.99, November 1990, 0 14 014391 2
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The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O’Brien 
by Oscar Hijuelos.
Hamish Hamilton, 484 pp., £15.99, July 1993, 0 241 13431 5
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... and Ricky and their real-life incarnations, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, make cameo appearances in Oscar Hijuelos’s spirited and lyrical second novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Their descent, god-like, into the lives of two Cuban brothers, Nestor and Cesar Castillo, both of whom arrive in New York from Havana in 1949 and who are the lead ...

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Jonathan Coe, 11 March 1993

The Long Night of White Chickens 
by Francisco Goldman.
Faber, 450 pp., £14.99, January 1993, 0 571 16098 0
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... attracted – Goldman offers a slyly penetrating critique of the Latin American machismo which Oscar Hijuelos celebrated with such gusto in The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Even so, the book itself cannot quite escape that tradition, and if it just fails, in the end, to pack the emotional punch which it constantly seems to be promising, this is ...

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