The Playwright s House
243 pages

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243 pages

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Happily married, backed by a powerful mentor, and with career prospects that would take him abroad, Serguey has more than any young Cuban lawyer could ask for. But when his estranged brother Victor appears with news that their father—famed theater director Felipe Blanco—has been detained for what he suspects are political reasons, Serguey’s privileged life is suddenly shaken.

A return to his childhood home in Havana’s decaying suburbs—a place filled with art, politics, and the remnants of a dissolving family—reconnects Serguey with his troubled past. He learns of an elusive dramaturge’s link to Felipe, a man who could be key to his father’s release. With the help of a social media activist and his wife’s ties with the Catholic Church, Serguey sets out to unlock the mystery of Felipe’s arrest and, in the process, is forced to confront the reasons for the hostility between him and Victor: two violent childhood episodes that scarred them in unforgettable ways. On the verge of imprisonment, Serguey realizes he must make a decision regarding not just his father, but his family and his own future, a decision which, under the harsh shadow of a communist state, he cannot afford to regret.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 juin 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781597098809
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Dariel Suarez
Red Hen Press | Pasadena, CA
The Playwright’s House
Copyright © 2021 by Dariel Suarez
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner.
Book layout by Vivian Rowe
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Suarez, Dariel, 1983– author.
Title: The playwright’s house : a novel / Dariel Suarez.
Description: First edition. | Pasadena, CA : Red Hen Press, 2021.
Identifiers: LCCN 2021000793 (print) | LCCN 2021000794 (ebook) | ISBN 9781597091145 (trade paperback) | ISBN 9781597098809 (epub)
Subjects: GSAFD: Suspense fiction.
Classification: LCC PS3619.U328 P57 2021 (print) | LCC PS3619.U328 (ebook) | DDC 813/.6—dc23
LC record available at
LC ebook record available at
Publication of this book has been made possible in part through the financial support of Jim Wilson.
The National Endowment for the Arts, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Ahmanson Foundation, the Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, the Max Factor Family Foundation, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Foundation, the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Audrey & Sydney Irmas Charitable Foundation, the Kinder Morgan Foundation, the Meta & George Rosenberg Foundation, the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation, the Adams Family Foundation, the Riordan Foundation, Amazon Literary Partnership, the Sam Francis Foundation, and the Mara W. Breech Foundation partially support Red Hen Press.

First Edition
Published by Red Hen Press
To Ali & Nati
Andrea: “ Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero. ” Galileo: “ No, Andrea: Unhappy is the land that needs a hero. ”
—Bertolt Brecht
For us, a revolutionary people in a revolutionary process, we value cultural and artistic creations in regards to how they serve the people, in regards to what they contribute to man, in regards to what they contribute to man’s vindication, to man’s liberation, to man’s happiness. Our assessment is political. There can’t be aesthetic value without human content. There can’t be aesthetic value against man. There can’t be aesthetic value against justice, against well-being, against liberation, against man’s happiness.
—Fidel Castro
The show was a success.
It was no surprise to Serguey, who during the past decade had seen his father direct over a dozen plays to critical acclaim. Still, he was delighted to witness Felipe’s greatness come alive in Teatro Mella , one of Havana’s premier venues. The audience applauded and cheered, calling for him to be brought onstage. A smile materialized on his father’s lips as he took the last few steps up the side stairs. For a man of fifty, he moved sprightly. His graying hair shone elegantly above his thick, dark eyebrows. His eyes gleamed under the lights as if filled with tears. He stared at the crowd, saluting those he recognized. The cast held hands behind him, forming a human fence, and bowed in appreciation. He stopped for a moment and blew a kiss in Serguey and Anabel’s direction. Serguey gave him a thumbs-up. In the periphery of his vision, he could see that his wife had blown a kiss back at his father. She continued applauding with fervor, her whole body stirring the contours of her dress. Serguey smiled at the genuine thrill in her reaction, spurred by the fact that her sister, Alida, had just made her acting debut.
The actors and Felipe took one final bow. The curtain glided down, and his father placed a hand over his heart as his figure disappeared. The lights became brighter, illuminating the yellow banisters of the theater. Their undulating design mimicked the motion of waves rushing toward the stage. The murmuring crowd inched gradually up the aisles, leaving a sea of red chairs behind. Serguey and Anabel remained in their seats.
“Alida was wonderful,” Serguey said. He took his wife’s hands. They were exceptionally warm, as if heated by fire.
“I’m so proud of her.”
A couple in their late teens was attempting to pass them in order to leave their row. Serguey and Anabel stood, springs squeaking as they pushed up the foldable seats. The girl’s canvas bag snatched on the armrest of Anabel’s chair, abruptly yanking her shoulder. Anabel slid the strap off politely as they traded a demure look. The boy, already in the aisle, went to assist his girlfriend a little too late, resorting to a timid stroke of her shoulder. He did a double take at Serguey and hesitantly asked, “Do you know the director?”
Anabel gazed at Serguey in mock amazement, implying his connection to the director made him important.
Serguey chuckled and said, “He’s my father.” He pointed at Anabel, then at the stage. “Her sister played the Pedagogo in the first act.”
The couple bobbed their heads and brought up their hands—a recognition and a goodbye. They stuttered their steps until the girl shoved the boy and he got his feet fully in gear.
As if the interaction had been a mere daydream, Serguey turned to his wife and said, “Were you nervous when Alida came on?”
She sat again. He did the same.
“Nervous? I was dying!”
They waited until most of the venue cleared, both of them absorbing the relative calm that immediately follows the raucous collective experience that is theater. Now he could focus more easily on the details. Anabel had put on her favorite clothes for the occasion: a navy cocktail dress that accentuated her breasts and narrow shoulders. The silky fabric fell tightly over her body to the base of her knees. On the way over, Serguey had wanted to run his fingers down her back, rest them atop her curving butt, maybe a little lower. Instead, Anabel had looped her arm around his elbow.
With the seats now practically empty, he looked around and shouted, “Hello!” He listened carefully for his echo. “I used to love doing that when I was a kid,” he said to Anabel. “My dad would bring me to theaters during dress rehearsals, and at the end of the night, when everyone had left, we’d sit and scream our names at the ceiling. Dad said he’d done the same inside a few cathedrals in Spain when he traveled there.”
Anabel said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it during Mass.”
“I don’t know if he did, but he got kicked out of the one in Toledo.”
His father was a daring man, Serguey knew, and this was especially true of his work. THE GREATEST DIRECTOR OF OUR GENERATION? had been the headline of a recent article in El Escenario . It made the case that Felipe’s bold approach to his craft—his willingness to break away from the norm in the contemporary stage—had solidified him as an “innovator” and “artistic genius.” He’d decided to reject adaptations of Greek, Shakespearean, nineteenth, and twentieth-century classics to concentrate on the original work produced by his trusted playwright, Mario Rabasa. He’d incited a trend that, in some critics’ view, defied recent decades of Cuban theater. Serguey couldn’t help laughing at the praise, even if he agreed with it at some level. The article had been printed on the heels of the announcement that Felipe would be presenting Virgilio Piñera’s Electra Garrigó —the play they had just watched—a 1940s Cuban parody of Sophocles’ Electra .
So much for original material.
Serguey pictured his father pacing slowly around his living room, flaunting a copy of El Escenario at his friends. He’d be looking into each person’s eyes as he passed them, claiming that such academic and critical nonsense stood in opposition to art, that he was now doomed to personal failure and subsequent misery, since, when one thought about it (here he’d raise both his voice and the magazine in his hand), the focus had been placed on him and not what truly mattered: his creative work.
“No artist can receive such attention and remain pure,” he had likely said. “Not while he’s alive.” He might’ve paused and added, “And if they’re going to write such idiocy, why put a question mark? It’s insulting!”
Serguey also knew that a handful of those friends—the ones who had been around when his father was little more than a young, insecure playwright—would be fighting back smirks and chuckles. Felipe had been a playwriting professor for the better part of a decade. As a graduate of the Instituto Superior de Arte, he had written his share of reviews and critical essays for national publications, dissecting plays with a mixture of objectivity and flare.
His father was an exceptional artist, Serguey had no doubt, but he was also the most contradictory person he had ever known.
The heavy base of the curtain billowed in shifting shapes: the stagehands’ night wasn’t over. As a child, Serguey had helped clean after several shows, sweeping and placing props in their respective boxes. Occasionally, an actor would mount him on his shoulders and walk him to the front edge of the stage. Serguey felt as if he were floating over the chairs,

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