Happily married, backed by a powerful mentor, and with career prospects that would take him abroad, Serguey has more than any young Cuban lawyer could ask for. But when his estranged brother Victor appears with news that their father—famed theater director Felipe Blanco—has been detained for what he suspects are political reasons, Serguey’s privileged life is suddenly shaken.
A return to his childhood home in Havana’s decaying suburbs—a place filled with art, politics, and the remnants of a dissolving family—reconnects Serguey with his troubled past. He learns of an elusive dramaturge’s link to Felipe, a man who could be key to his father’s release. With the help of a social media activist and his wife’s ties with the Catholic Church, Serguey sets out to unlock the mystery of Felipe’s arrest and, in the process, is forced to confront the reasons for the hostility between him and Victor: two violent childhood episodes that scarred them in unforgettable ways. On the verge of imprisonment, Serguey realizes he must make a decision regarding not just his father, but his family and his own future, a decision which, under the harsh shadow of a communist state, he cannot afford to regret.
“Fans of realistic political thrillers won’t want to miss this one.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Taut and propulsive…Suarez, with subtle force, gets at who is acting and who is watching, within a family, a city, a country, and a culture.”
“Expansive yet intimate…The seamless confluence and meditation of art, history, architecture, the power of social media activism, and the influence of the Catholic Church makes this political thriller an intriguing and illuminating read…An impressive debut.”
“The Playwright’s House is a bighearted novel, intricately embedded in the politics and daily life of contemporary Cuba. It is also a family story of love, sibling rivalry, courage, and redemption. Suarez writes with energy, exuberance, and psychological acuity. The straightforward prose adds gravity and earnestness to this remarkable novel.”
–Ha Jin, National Book Award winner and author of War Trash
“The Playwright’s House is a thrilling and compassionate story of brotherhood, surveillance culture, the provocative power of theater, and the persistent ways past ghosts can haunt the present. Dariel Suarez animates the singularly complex and contradictory landscape of contemporary Havana with immense precision and insight. This is a stunning and vital novel.”
–Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel
“Suarez intricately weaves in politics and family history…The kind of novel you want to just sink into and savor: in language, detail, and scope. How I wish we had more books like this one.”
–Marjan Kamali, author of The Stationery Shop
“Suarez’s beautiful debut novel will leave you wanting to live in that world, hoping for a drink with these brothers and sisters, hoping for a better world, and a freer Cuba.”
–The Massachusetts Review
“The realities of living in Havana under a communist state are brought alive through vivid detail and a sense of lived experience…An example of socially engaged fiction…woefully underrepresented in the overall contemporary publishing industry in the United States.”
“A beautifully layered book that shows Cuba through the eyes of a native.”