Sprawling ... The [first] scene introduces several of the novel’s characteristic modes and methods, among them its mordant satire, its heavy reliance on flashback and its use of more than 1,000 Spanish words with no italics and rare translations. It also sets up one of the novel’s more lacerating remarks ... Perhaps more compelling than the plot and its tireless rum-soaked accounts is the novel’s symbolic framework ... What finally emerges is an argument for accepting revolutions as a cyclical feature, not an aberration, of political life.
Ernesto Mestre-Reed writes with the body awareness of a dancer. The visceral and lively descriptions in Sacrificio, Mestre-Reed’s third novel, have a physicality that renders his characters through a sense of touch as much as sight ... With rich and playful language, including sharp bursts of Spanish, Sacrificio is a book in conversation with other books, probing its relationship to Cuba’s literary history in the Anglosphere ... Sacrificio itself is many different books in one: a pandemic story, an intricate portrait of queer love, and a fever dream of place, time, and desire. Perhaps above all, Sacrificio is a spy novel that...redefines what a spy novel can be.
Narrated without the use of quotation marks, the prose takes on a psychedelic cast, blending memories with hallucinations. Evocative language is used to detail the creep of infections in once-healthy bodies and the decay of society in once-thriving cities ... Lush, dreamy descriptions contrast with grim fatalism in Sacrificio, a transcendent novel that catalogs the many ways that humans can hurt each other, and that a society can fall apart.
A beguiling, meandering story that unfolds in dense and dizzying prose. Though challenging at times, Sacrificio is an invitation to slow down and pay attention. The rewards are plentiful for readers willing to give themselves over to a narrative that twists through Havana’s streets, churches, hotels, backyard restaurants and many secrets ... That’s a lot of plot, but it’s only the beginning, as Sacrificio is Dickensian in both scope and feel. Observant Rafa narrates in the first person, but he is long-winded and unreliable, often drifting into discursive stories told to him by others ... Sacrificio is a reminder that other kinds of books are worthwhile as well: slow stories, disorienting yet compelling books that require work, old-school dramas that nevertheless speak to the fraught complexities of our current political reality.
Mestre-Reed combines elements of a spy novel and political thriller with bleak, steely-eyed realism about Cuba in the 1990s ... The book itself reflects the slow decay of ideals Mestre-Reed is exploring in the story ... A compelling, melancholy novel that explores the beautiful rise and often violent breakdown of dreams, ideals, and love.