Magazine article New Internationalist

Heretics

Magazine article New Internationalist

Heretics

Article excerpt

Heretics by Leonardo Padura, translated by Anna Kushner (Bitter Lemon Press, ISBN978 1908524 782)

In 1939 a ship, the Saint Louis, arrives in Havana from Hamburg, bearing hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism. For several days they remain in harbour, pleading with corrupt officials and cronies of Batista for permission to disembark.

Watching from the dock is nine-year-old Daniel Kaminsky. On that ship are Daniel's mother, father and sister. The family have with them an heirloom that they believe will buy them safety: a small painting by Rembrandt.

Leonardo Padura's latest novel starts with this little known, shameful episode in Cuba's history. Cleverly, the Cuban writer has imported detective Mario Conde from his bestselling crime series, Havana Quartet. It is a criminal investigation of sorts - into a revenge murder that the adult Daniel might have committed, and into how that Rembrandt painting, missing for decades, has now suddenly turned up on the London art market. …

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