While on vacation I ran out of books and decided to peruse the cruise ship library’s selections of novels and I came across a salsa dancing novel, the first one I have ever heard of or read. Of course I was extremely excited about my find and borrowed the book immediately.
The novel is called Mambo Peligroso written by Patricia Chao. It is centered around the New York Mambo Scene in the late nineties and does a great job of describing salsa dancing and the addictive lives of serious salseros (or Mamberos in New York).
I am not going to do a formal book review mainly because books are so subjective. However here are some things I will share. I didn’t love the book unfortunately. The writing style was not to my taste and it went from being purely based on dancing to a very gritty portrayal of the main characters’ sexual relationships. If that sort of book doesn’t appeal to you then this is definitely not the book for you.
However, the parts about the salsa dancing were bang on and it was really interesting to read about mambo in a fictional work so overall I am glad to have read the book. Here is the write up that Amazon has listed for the book:
Chao takes readers for a floor-scorching spin in this novel set in the sensuous world of salsa dancing. Japanese Cuban immigrant Catalina Ortiz Midori is sure she is ready to leave New York until the day she sets foot in Alegre Studio in the heart of Spanish Harlem. From the one-eyed teacher who beds women from every borough to the streetwise single mother who dances like a dream, Catalina (“Lina” to her fellow dancers) encounters New Yorkers whose personal histories are as compelling as their moves. Here is a world where lawyers and bricklayers alike ooze passion from every pore. The more Lina dances, the closer she feels to her long-neglected Latin roots. Chao, author of Monkey King (1997), is an accomplished mambo dancer and one-time member of the performance troupe Casa de la Salsa. Her descriptions of (literal) New York stomping grounds like the Palladium and Copacabana dazzle; her hot-blooded characters are believable and complex. This high-voltage novel will have readers furiously flipping pages and tapping their toes–perhaps even pondering some salsa sessions of their own.
If anyone reads it, let me know what you think. If there are other dancing related books that you can recommend, I would love to hear about them!