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About Spirits and Other Mysteries

Esther Díaz Llanillo · Cubanabooks · 2022 · 552 pp

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Narrativa

Tales of the paranormal and the bizarre set in the city of Havana, by Cuban author Esther Díaz Llanillo, melding fantasy with black humor and metaphysical undertones. Bilingual edition.

The bilingual collection of short stories About Spirits and Other Mysteries / sobre espíritus y otros misterios, by Cuban writer Esther Díaz Llanillo, will delight readers interested in a darkly humorous, supernatural and macabre look at life in Havana.

Díaz Llanillo is known for her blending of paranormal fantasy with black humor and metaphysical undertones; her short fiction has been described as bizarre, uncanny, absurd, macabre, intellectual and ironic. Her work explores universal questions of right and wrong, good and evil, real and unreal. Jeremy Glazier suggests Díaz Llanillo’s tales are reminiscent of “Poe… or, better yet, Edith Wharton’s ghost stories and the twisted world of Shirley Jackson.” Jorge Febles likens her style to Latin American greats such as Silvina Ocampo, Virgilio Piñera, Cortázar and Rosario Ferré. Her writing could also could be compared to the darkly humorous horror of Haruki Murakami.

The tales in this collection are set in the city of Havana, although to enter her fiction is to cross a frontier into strange spaces and imaginary worlds. Díaz Llanillo takes everyday scenes of Cuban life, rotates them on the axis of her imagination, then reveals the hallucinations, ghosts, dreams, and supernatural forces that lie beneath the surface. Carnivorous plants, menacingly self-replicating red beans, impossible murders and discerning ghosts looking for real estate are just a few of the images that prompt uncomfortable shivers and guilty half-laughs for the readers.