Cuba, 1998: Rafa, an Afro-Cuban orphan, moves to Havana and is soon drawn into a web of ever-shifting entanglements with his boss's son, the charismatic Renato, leader of the counterrevolutionary group "Los Injected Ones," which is planning a violent overthrow of the Castro government during Pope John Paul II's upcoming visit. When Renato goes missing, Rafa's search for his friend takes him through various haunts in Havana: from an AIDS sanatorium, to the guest rooms of tourist hotels, to the outskirts of the capital, where he enters a phantasmagorical slum cobbled together from the city's detritus by Los Injected Ones.
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.