Cantoras
"Cantoras is a stunning lullaby to revolution--and each woman in this novel sings it with a deep ferocity. Again and again, I was lifted, then gently set down again--either through tears, rage, or laughter. Days later, I am still inside this song of a story."--Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of The Gods of Tango, a revolutionary new novel about five wildly different women who, in the midst of the Uruguayan dictatorship, find one another as lovers, friends, and ultimately, family.In 1977 Uruguay, a military government crushed political dissent with ruthless force. In this environment, where the everyday rights of people are under attack, homosexuality is a dangerous transgression to be punished. And yet Romina, Flaca, Anita "La Venus," Paz, and Malena--five cantoras, women who "sing"--somehow, miraculously, find one another. Together, they discover an isolated, nearly uninhabited cape, Cabo Polonio, which they claim as their secret sanctuary. Over the next thirty-five years, their lives move back and forth between Cabo Polonio and Montevideo, the city they call home, as they return, sometimes together, sometimes in pairs, with lovers in tow, or alone. And throughout, again and again, the women will be tested--by their families, lovers, society, and one another--as they fight to live authentic lives. A genre-defining novel and De Robertis's masterpiece, Cantoras is a breathtaking portrait of queer love, community, forgotten history, and the strength of the human spirit. At once timeless and groundbreaking, Cantoras is a tale about the fire in all our souls and those who make it burn.

Cantoras Details

TitleCantoras
Author
ReleaseSep 3rd, 2019
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
ISBN-139780525521693
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, LGBT, GLBT, Queer

Cantoras Review

  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    Freedom. In 1970s Uruguay,freedom was not to be found. Called the process, the country was under a brutal dictatorship, a system that cared little for innocence or guilt. A system that took, people, rights, joy and made them disappear. For the five women in this story this wasn't the only type of freedom not available to them, they also did not have the freedom to love whom they wanted. Their same sex desire must be kept hidden at all costs. They were Cantoras.They find a place in an isolated co Freedom. In 1970s Uruguay,freedom was not to be found. Called the process, the country was under a brutal dictatorship, a system that cared little for innocence or guilt. A system that took, people, rights, joy and made them disappear. For the five women in this story this wasn't the only type of freedom not available to them, they also did not have the freedom to love whom they wanted. Their same sex desire must be kept hidden at all costs. They were Cantoras.They find a place in an isolated coastal village, a place that will cement their love, friendships and provide a stable base throughout the years. We learn each of their backgrounds, some who have suffered from base treatment of the dictatorship, one from her own family. We follow them for four decades as they struggle, come apart and come together again. The bond the women form with each other, the friendship that endures changing partners and lost loves is the wonder of this novel. Their fight for freedom of both sorts is a formidable force. It is amazing what a person can go through, and still have the power to love, albeit with scars.A beautiful, moving book, one where the characters work their way into your heart. A warning though for those who find explicit same sex scenes uncomfortable, though I thought they were well done and helped define the story."Why did life put so much inside a woman and then keep her confined to smallness?""What is love," she said. "if it can't hold all the channels of the spirit.""The essence of dictatorship, she thought. On the bus, on the street, at home, no matter where you are or how ordinary you seem, you're in a cage."ARC from Edelweiss.
    more
  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    This novel is magnificent!!!....gorgeous!!! It’s ‘alive’, bursting with energy! In Uruguay you could be arrested for just having five or more people in your house. The regime did whatever it wanted regardless of the laws. Women didn’t make sexual advances in the country of dictatorship......BUT......Flaca, Romina, Anita, Paz, and Marlena did!!!The women had seven full days of sunshine - no toilets and no husbands. I wanted to stand up and sing, wiggle & jiggle... twirl.. and dance with these This novel is magnificent!!!....gorgeous!!! It’s ‘alive’, bursting with energy! In Uruguay you could be arrested for just having five or more people in your house. The regime did whatever it wanted regardless of the laws. Women didn’t make sexual advances in the country of dictatorship......BUT......Flaca, Romina, Anita, Paz, and Marlena did!!!The women had seven full days of sunshine - no toilets and no husbands. I wanted to stand up and sing, wiggle & jiggle... twirl.. and dance with these women— run away to the beach with them. Women should’ve felt guilty- for lying to their husbands, for going against the laws of dictatorship...but instead they felt radiant - exuberant - happy!!!Flaca says: “ To hell with the dangers, I don’t even care if they kill me for it, I will have lived along the way”. This has got to be - absolutely- one of the joyous books about friends and lovers -against a frightening backdrop to EVER BE WRITTEN!!!!DON’T MISS IT!!!I’d give it 10 stars if I could!!!
    more
  • Joc
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in long time. It’s triumphant and devastating, it’s optimistic and heart-breaking, and then manages to cover just about every emotion in between. The story starts off in 1977 in Montevideo, Uruguay, where five women come together to form the beginnings of friendship. A week-long trip to Cabo Polonia, a small village on the coast north of Montevideo, connects them to each other and the village in a way that city living never could.Of the five wome This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in long time. It’s triumphant and devastating, it’s optimistic and heart-breaking, and then manages to cover just about every emotion in between. The story starts off in 1977 in Montevideo, Uruguay, where five women come together to form the beginnings of friendship. A week-long trip to Cabo Polonia, a small village on the coast north of Montevideo, connects them to each other and the village in a way that city living never could.Of the five women, Flaca is the one to bring them together initially. She’s a butcher’s daughter, used to fairly physical work and not very feminine. She’s quite aware of her sexual orientation but given the era, the patriarchal society and the terror instilled by the recent ascendance of a military dictatorship, being queer is hidden. Romina, in her early 20s like Flaca, is a student and former lover, now best friend, of Flaca’s. Her brother has been detained and jailed for suspected dissidence which means she is marked by association and being discovered a lesbian is as dangerous as being a part of the resistance is. Flaca’s lover, Anita, figures out a way to leave her husband and unfulfilling marriage for the week. She’s gorgeous, the oldest of the group at 27, and it’s not long before she’s nicknamed ‘La Venus’. Romina brings along a woman she met near the university. She’s sure Malena is lesbian like them, but it’s unspoken. Malena is prim with a bun as ‘tight as her smile’ and says very little. The last of the women is 15-year-old Paz who came into the butchery where Flaca recognised her as a kindred spirit.The unfolding of each of their stories through the years of political turmoil is powerful and the writing portrays the trauma and joy in a subtle and poetic way. The women are alive on the pages of this novel, even Malena, who shimmers just out of reach in her aloofness. They feel real and the choices they make are human and not always the bravest ones, or the kindest. The five women are so different from each other in temperament, education, background, family life and age that in the beginning it seems as if the only thing that unites them is their love of women but perhaps, given their circumstances, that's enough. The political landscape is woven into their lives and I found myself being educated with little effort.I was drawn into their existence, their pasts and their present. I came to care about them and their well-being. Their trials emotionally wrenched me from comfort and their love and friendship gave me hope for them. It’s not a light read but it is engrossing and fast-paced. I’m left with an ache in my chest that, given the choice, I would choose again just to experience the beauty of this novel.Book received from Netgalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for an honest review<./i>
    more
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    I was late to a scheduled podcast recording Sunday because I just had to finish this book first. It is beautifully written about five women living in Uruguay, building a found family to live as who they really are, despite dictators, trauma, and fear. Some of the story comes from research the author did on the first LGBTQ+ spaces in Uruguay, not in the city but on the very edge of the country between ocean and sand dunes. The five women in the novel buy a shack that becomes their escape. Each ch I was late to a scheduled podcast recording Sunday because I just had to finish this book first. It is beautifully written about five women living in Uruguay, building a found family to live as who they really are, despite dictators, trauma, and fear. Some of the story comes from research the author did on the first LGBTQ+ spaces in Uruguay, not in the city but on the very edge of the country between ocean and sand dunes. The five women in the novel buy a shack that becomes their escape. Each character is unique, they all have individual connections with the other characters, and the time spans 1970s to 2013. I also noticed the tension created by coming out in a time of extreme oppression such as a dictatorship, and the long-term damage that can do. This feels like a story that runs deep for the person writing it as well. I had a copy from the publisher through NetGalley, it came out September 3, and this is one of my top reads so far this year.
    more
  • Lupita Reads
    January 1, 1970
    Review coming soon but hands down top five favorite of this year!!!
  • JulesGP
    January 1, 1970
    Cantoras is the second book that I’ve read by this author, The Gods of Tango being the first and that one took me two tries to finish because both stories are heavy reading. Cantoras, which is the Spanish word for female singers and old timey slang for Lesbians, is a telling of five women who discover each other the way women do, by a glance, certain body language, or via a few choice remarks. They’re very young and desperate to breathe and be who they imagine themselves to be. But this is the 1 Cantoras is the second book that I’ve read by this author, The Gods of Tango being the first and that one took me two tries to finish because both stories are heavy reading. Cantoras, which is the Spanish word for female singers and old timey slang for Lesbians, is a telling of five women who discover each other the way women do, by a glance, certain body language, or via a few choice remarks. They’re very young and desperate to breathe and be who they imagine themselves to be. But this is the 1970’s in Uruguay and South America during the rule of heinous military dictatorships when ordinary people living ordinary lives were disappeared and tortured in prisons simply for the crime of existing. In addition, being a Latina woman brings about its own “esposas” or handcuffs, the obligatory pathway to being a man’s wife, most certainly not a lover of other women and especially not in those times. Amidst this suffocating mix of fear and despair, Anita, Flaca, Romina, Malena, and Paz venture to an isolated beach town to steal a bit of freedom. There begins an epic tale of intense friendships that span nearly 40 years through fiery loves and tragedy, intricate layers of character portrayals that wrung out every one of my emotions as they played out in such a natural way that it felt like the stories of real women. I have a weakness for lyrical word craft and nearly every one of her lines is a scorching beauty. “I can’t spend my life staring down the gun barrel of the past.”(Uncorrected proof) That in essence is this story, women triumphing beyond unimaginable pain and scars. 5+ stars for Cantoras. I read this arc courtesy of Netgalley and Knopf in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    A novel written by a Uruguayan-born author inspired by five queer women who discovered a sanctuary on the coast in a sanctuary called Cabo Polonio doesn’t exactly have the best-seller label all over it. But when the author is Carolina de Robertis – the author of the outstanding book Perla – and the women represent any one of us who yearn for a feeling of safety, home and family, the book cries out to be read.For anyone who loves books that ask the question, “What does it take to be human?”, my a A novel written by a Uruguayan-born author inspired by five queer women who discovered a sanctuary on the coast in a sanctuary called Cabo Polonio doesn’t exactly have the best-seller label all over it. But when the author is Carolina de Robertis – the author of the outstanding book Perla – and the women represent any one of us who yearn for a feeling of safety, home and family, the book cries out to be read.For anyone who loves books that ask the question, “What does it take to be human?”, my answer is: read Cantoras. It’s a beautiful book, exquisitely written, and passionately felt. And it tackles what it means to live, survive, and belong to each other and to a land that’s far older than the soldiers and the generals who try to redefine it and soil it. As a military dictatorship firms its hold on Uruguay from 1973 to 1985, targeting anyone who is not “normal” for punishment, five women refuse to have their authentic flame extinguished. They adopt the term “cantoras” – translated as singers – and away from the blinding city lights of Montevideo, they discover how to laugh, flirt, dream, share secrets, and most of all, to sing. As one character says to another, “Well, thank goodness you make her sing What’s a life without music?” Mostly young and mainly single when they meet, they blossom and grow together and learn new ways to interweave with each other. Even at time when they don’t believe in the fundamental goodness of human souls, they believe in “the shimmering power they generated collectively by being awake and together in this room.”Beyond all else, the book is an ode to the enduring power of loving strongly and without boundaries. It will hopefully receive the wide readership it deserves.
    more
  • Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
    January 1, 1970
    An absolutely breathtaking narrative, truly special! This is a story about five women as they become friends, form relationships, and become chosen family along the way. Set against the backdrop of the Uruguayan dictatorship, this is part coming of age and part learning to thrive amidst a society that condemned their existence. Before they had the words to articulate their sexual identify, they gave themselves the name “Cantoras.”I am immensely grateful to @lupita.reads for putting this beautifu An absolutely breathtaking narrative, truly special! This is a story about five women as they become friends, form relationships, and become chosen family along the way. Set against the backdrop of the Uruguayan dictatorship, this is part coming of age and part learning to thrive amidst a society that condemned their existence. Before they had the words to articulate their sexual identify, they gave themselves the name “Cantoras.”I am immensely grateful to @lupita.reads for putting this beautiful novel on my radar - check out her episode on the Reading Women podcast to hear more. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC,
    more
  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    4.5. I wavered between 4 and 5 stars; I could have easily rounded up as down. Compassionate and moving - hopefully, a full review later.
  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    This book is fabulous and I learned so much by reading it. This historical fiction is about 5 queer women ( Flaca, Romina, Anita - La Venus, Malenia and Paz) who meet under various situations and decide to travel to this beach called Cabo Polonio. This beach becomes there refuge during a volatile time in Uruguay. Over the course of many years (teens to older adults), they see things change not only in Uruguay but on the beach they claimed as their own in early adulthood. Lovers come and go, but This book is fabulous and I learned so much by reading it. This historical fiction is about 5 queer women ( Flaca, Romina, Anita - La Venus, Malenia and Paz) who meet under various situations and decide to travel to this beach called Cabo Polonio. This beach becomes there refuge during a volatile time in Uruguay. Over the course of many years (teens to older adults), they see things change not only in Uruguay but on the beach they claimed as their own in early adulthood. Lovers come and go, but their friendship and the fact that they are queer remains.With the above said, this book is deep, sad, frightening, loving, happy, infuriating and a host of other emotions. Because this book partially takes place after a coop, there are many horrors that happen but not necessarily given in detail. Some is eluded too and some are explain during the course of the book. If I went into detail, I would be giving up things you need to discover on your own. I truly never anticipated that I would touched like I was reading this. In many ways, it reminds me of the Color Purple. Anyway, I loved this book!I give this one 5 stars! This ARC was provided by Netgalley and the Publisher for an honest review.
    more
  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    A moving and original story of found family for a group of young, lesbian women in Uruguay under a dictatorship. Right away I was pulled into the story and struck by how unique it felt, this is the first time I've read De Robertis and I was immediately captivated. She expertly navigates how they struggle with the intersections of political and social oppression for their gender and their sexual orientation. While they do not have an easy life and there is much struggle, most of this book didn't A moving and original story of found family for a group of young, lesbian women in Uruguay under a dictatorship. Right away I was pulled into the story and struck by how unique it felt, this is the first time I've read De Robertis and I was immediately captivated. She expertly navigates how they struggle with the intersections of political and social oppression for their gender and their sexual orientation. While they do not have an easy life and there is much struggle, most of this book didn't have the feeling of overwhelming queer suffering that often goes along with these narratives. The characters are so vibrant and so hopeful, they take so much comfort and pleasure in each other, that it is a mostly optimistic book. That said, the final fourth of the book does involve multiple content warnings, including suicide and conversion therapy. I appreciate this kind of story being told, but it was hard to end on that note after the rest of the book.
    more
  • switterbug (Betsey)
    January 1, 1970
    I remember the days, here in the U.S., where being gay meant being ostracized, and most people kept it a secret, much to the disadvantage of their psychological health. There are still some corners of America that remain in the Dark Ages, despite the new laws allowing gay people to marry. But in Uruguay, during the fascist dictatorship of the 70s, coming out of the closet meant getting arrested, tortured, sexually violated, and often “disappeared.” And women couldn’t gather more than four togeth I remember the days, here in the U.S., where being gay meant being ostracized, and most people kept it a secret, much to the disadvantage of their psychological health. There are still some corners of America that remain in the Dark Ages, despite the new laws allowing gay people to marry. But in Uruguay, during the fascist dictatorship of the 70s, coming out of the closet meant getting arrested, tortured, sexually violated, and often “disappeared.” And women couldn’t gather more than four together—five in a group could also mean disappearing. Gay people had to live their life as a lie or risk merciless punishment. This latest novel by proudly gay author (with Uruguayan origins) Carolina de Robertis is about a group of gay women friends in Montevideo who find a way to prevail and lead authentic lives.It starts during a 7-day beach vacation at a remote oceanside location, unknown by tourists and the military. A group of five gay women converge--a criminal number. Paz is the youngest at 16, but accepted as one of the “cantoras,” with their special definition: not just a woman who sings, but also a lesbian embraced by each other. Long and leggy and beautiful Anita is unhappily married and in love with Flaca, who used to be with Romina, who was once arrested for three very long days. Malena is the quiet one. They are all singular yet relatable; they have vastly different relationships with their individual families, not without its flaws.It sounds like a soap opera, and de Robertis always has a torrent of romance, but with a subtle restraint and knowingness. She’s a rare author that can get away with exclamatory and declarative sentences and hot love filling the pages. She’s audacious but cadenced, replete with memorable characters. Each woman has a backstory and current pressures, and no two are alike. De Robertis shapes her individuals, distinct and three-dimensional. Flaca Paz, Malena, Romina, and Anita (her sobriquet now La Venus) meet here at the beach whenever their schedules will permit, and that’s all you need to know; the rest you discover in the pages and you root for these five brave but vulnerable women, not without flaws. Danger shadows them. Reading CANTORAS is to absorb an adventure tale of women who insist on being sincere, open, and candid, in a safe place to thrive, and to support others who also have to hide. It’s both an epic saga and an intimate story of survival and friendship. Read it and weep."It was strange...how you could live all your life in a home defined by people who loved you and took care of you and shared ancestors with you and yet did not entirely see you, people whom you protected by hiding yourself."Thank you to Carole Baron from PRH for sending me an early copy in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Karen (idleutopia_reads)
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t have the book in front of me so this is all coming from memories and feelings I still have for this book. It’s been a few weeks and I miss Paz, Flaca, Romina, Malena, La Venus, and Cabo Polonio so much. It truly feels like I left part of myself on the pages of this book and there is a part of them that have left an indelible mark. The book starts with a trip to this island that changes and forges a friendship that will last ages. The writing of this book is so atmospheric. It truly made I don’t have the book in front of me so this is all coming from memories and feelings I still have for this book. It’s been a few weeks and I miss Paz, Flaca, Romina, Malena, La Venus, and Cabo Polonio so much. It truly feels like I left part of myself on the pages of this book and there is a part of them that have left an indelible mark. The book starts with a trip to this island that changes and forges a friendship that will last ages. The writing of this book is so atmospheric. It truly made you feel as if you were right there in the middle of the situation, whether it was feeling the peaceful wind in Cabo Polonio or the oppressiveness of Montevideo under the Uruguayan military dictatorship. I got to know these five queer woman so much that when situations arose that made me swallow bitter pills I had to learn how to look at the situation from their perspective. They didn’t ask for my forgiveness but I had to strip away my own sentiments in order to empathize with their situation. The harrowing tales that these women had to go through was a reminder of the strength of women. These women were revolutionaries! Throughout it all, they stayed true to their beliefs and to their love. I admired each and every one of them so much. I had never read about Uruguay before and I was so amazed at how much history this gem of a country had. The last chapter was so amazing to me. To see how far these women had come, how much they had lost and how much they had grown. I was beyond grateful to have been allowed to witness the story with them. As I’m writing this, I’m imagining a fire warming the five women as they share their stories and I feel myself among their group. They were so welcoming to anyone that happened to open the pages of this book that thinking back to their story makes me feel as if I’m remembering a beautiful and vivid memory. I can’t say much more because this is truly a book you have to experience but if you have followed along to my reviews than please know that when I love a book I want everyone to read it. I want you all to immerse yourself in the experience that this book was. I can’t promise that there won’t be pain but I can promise that the good that comes along with the bad will make it an experience unlike any other.
    more
  • Bonnie Brody
    January 1, 1970
    I am not a Spanish speaking person so I hope my usage of 'encontrar' is correct. It refers to discovering or encountering, one of the major themes of this book, in opposition to the political background of a coup. People disappeared in Uruguay after the coup, and in Argentina at about the same time. They are known as 'the disappeared' - desaparecidos. Uruguay, once a relatively peaceful country changed in around 1973, after the presidential coup. It became a dictatorship, and censorship of all s I am not a Spanish speaking person so I hope my usage of 'encontrar' is correct. It refers to discovering or encountering, one of the major themes of this book, in opposition to the political background of a coup. People disappeared in Uruguay after the coup, and in Argentina at about the same time. They are known as 'the disappeared' - desaparecidos. Uruguay, once a relatively peaceful country changed in around 1973, after the presidential coup. It became a dictatorship, and censorship of all sorts were the norm. If your political beliefs, writing, pedagogy, or sexual preference were not approved of by the government, you could be picked up by armed militia and imprisoned - tortured or murdered perhaps - many never to be seen again. In Argentina, about 300,000 people 'disappeared', and though the number is much less in Uruguay, the practice was just as evil and frightening.This is a novel by the incomparable author of 'Perla', Carolina de Robertis. It tells of the fear that rocks Uruguay, and particularly, the secret, though deep, loves and friendships of 5 queer women - Anita, Flaca, Romina, Malena, and Paz. They try to find secret places and times for their trysts as they are unable to live their love and belief systems out in the open. "In Montevideo, the air itself was a hostile creature, lying in wait around you, breathing, invisible, a threat. People didn't speak to each other anymore." "There was no such thing as safe." Already, Romina's brother had become a desaparecido, pulled off the street and not heard from for the last 4 years. It comes as no surprise to Romina that she, too, is taken.Romina, miraculously, returns and the horrors she endured while imprisoned become a daily fear and personal trauma for her. Flaca, once her lover but now her best friend, suggests they both take their current lovers for a week away at a virtually unknown beach, Cabo Polonio, on the coast. There is no running water, no electricity or other urban amenities that they are used to. It will be the four women and Paz, a 16 year old girl that Flaca has befriended. There are some fishermen and a tiny store there as well.This is a story about awakenings, encountering one's soul and building oneself to completeness. Yes, there is sex, and lots of it, but it is primarily about the freedom to find out who you are and be that person with no restrictions or judgments. It is about humanity as seen through the lens of 5 women.
    more
  • Adrienne
    January 1, 1970
    I recommend Cantora to everyone with a beating heart and a head that is not stuck in a bygone century......actually, those are the very people who need to read it. It takes us to South America at a time where everything seems to be broken. Uruguay (story location) is ruled by a ruthless dictatorship, citizens were arrested and imprisoned without reason, gay people were abused, shamed and had to live a life rife with lies to survive. But there is something that thrives, a remarkable friendship b I recommend Cantora to everyone with a beating heart and a head that is not stuck in a bygone century......actually, those are the very people who need to read it. It takes us to South America at a time where everything seems to be broken. Uruguay (story location) is ruled by a ruthless dictatorship, citizens were arrested and imprisoned without reason, gay people were abused, shamed and had to live a life rife with lies to survive. But there is something that thrives, a remarkable friendship between five lesbians. It is a beautifully written, wonderful story, a 2019 favorite read for me.
    more
  • Mary Lins
    January 1, 1970
    “Cantoras” by Carolina De Robertis, brings us the story of five young lesbians (“cantoras”): Flaca, Romina, Anita (La Venus), Paz, and Malena, in Uruguay in the 1970s and 80s as the country struggles under a brutal dictatorship. It’s a story of long-term friendships and how they change/don’t change over time.The novel begins with the five women camping on a beach on a remote peninsula called Cabo Polonio, which is a real place (photographed on the cover) that later became a haven for queer peopl “Cantoras” by Carolina De Robertis, brings us the story of five young lesbians (“cantoras”): Flaca, Romina, Anita (La Venus), Paz, and Malena, in Uruguay in the 1970s and 80s as the country struggles under a brutal dictatorship. It’s a story of long-term friendships and how they change/don’t change over time.The novel begins with the five women camping on a beach on a remote peninsula called Cabo Polonio, which is a real place (photographed on the cover) that later became a haven for queer people. For one week they are free to be themselves. Their friendships deepen and the yearning for freedom does not abate when they return to the city, where they must meet secretly and carefully, lest they draw the attention of the regime and appear to be political subversives – which would be almost as bad as being revealed for what they truly are, because of course in this place and time homosexuality is strictly illegal.The five women pool their resources to buy a house, a shack, really, on Polonio, in order to share that freedom that they crave.De Robertis’ prose is almost poetry! Her descriptions – from the beauty of the ocean to the cruelty of the regime, to the love, sex, and friendship shared among the characters - are exquisite and vivid. Each of the women are beautifully drawn and we come to care about (and worry about) each of them and their unique circumstances. The story is perfectly paced and I couldn’t wait to get back to it, although I was sad to say goodbye to these characters. Interestingly, there are references to the Stonewall rebellion which happened 50 years ago this September, when this book is being published. Happy coincidence? Tip: because it is mentioned many times, I recommend Googling “mate” - a brewed herbal drink – and the containers, straws, and rituals that are part of the “mate” culture and ceremony.
    more
  • Adriana
    January 1, 1970
    She's done it again, folks 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    Flaca, Anita ( mostly known as La Venus), Malena, Romina, and Paz. Five women, five women living in Uruguay during the harsh dictatorship in the late 70’s, five queer women living in Uruguay trying to just be themselves in a dangerous climate surrounded by a militaristic government that they must narrowly skate by carefully keeping their true selves at bay within their own home. They find each other, they find love, friendship, family, and a secluded cape called Cabo Polonio that becomes a haven Flaca, Anita ( mostly known as La Venus), Malena, Romina, and Paz. Five women, five women living in Uruguay during the harsh dictatorship in the late 70’s, five queer women living in Uruguay trying to just be themselves in a dangerous climate surrounded by a militaristic government that they must narrowly skate by carefully keeping their true selves at bay within their own home. They find each other, they find love, friendship, family, and a secluded cape called Cabo Polonio that becomes a haven, a lighthouse, a beacon of hope for them. Much like the beautiful beach landscape that Carolina De Roberts describes, her words pound like the waves upon the rocks and the story she recites is as magnificent as the sunsets she epitomizes on these pages. Starting in 77’ Cantoras takes us into the lives of these women for the next thirty five years as they try to navigate the changing world around them, as they too change with the world. They go back and forth from Cabo Polonio to Montevideo to Brazil, and other stretches across South America, striving for a life free of worries, and safe from the judging eyes of society and a government that would imprison them immediately all for their love of another woman. Each woman has a torrid past that we see pieced together throughout the novel like a puzzle that you never want to finish. Flaca is the motherly like figure of the group, La Venus the model-esque heart breaker, Romina the quiet one that we see grow so much, Paz whom is the youngest and we watch blossom into a woman before our eyes and come to terms with who she is and becomes almost the hub of the group, and then there is Malena, the most tragic of all. Just writing about Malena brings back the heartache I felt for her as her story unfold and find out everything that has happened to her in her life. She was very much comparable to Jude from a little life, a character you come to love and care for and just want so much for them to be happy and free to be themselves. Cantoras was a spectacular novel that brought to life the portrait of queer love, forgotten history, and the strength of the human spirit, it is one that also taught me a lot, and it showed me that as a society and a world we have come a long way in a short time, however, there is still a mountain to climb for all human equality, this novel is a small stepping stone into realizing we are right in the middle of a beautiful movement that continues day in and day out throughout this world.
    more
  • Oscreads
    January 1, 1970
    This book will definitely be in my Top 3 books of the year for 2019
  • Isabella
    January 1, 1970
    First of all, I got this book in exchange for an honest review from Random House through Edelweiss, so thank you!I finished this book about four days ago, and was just sitting with it. It took me on a ride, like one I never been before. Why?- It's set in Uruguay. During the dictactorship.I know a lot about the Brazilian dictatorship, I know a bit about Latin America's dictatorships, but I never read a story entirely set in it. It was amazing - and heartbreaking - reading a book about this time i First of all, I got this book in exchange for an honest review from Random House through Edelweiss, so thank you!I finished this book about four days ago, and was just sitting with it. It took me on a ride, like one I never been before. Why?- It's set in Uruguay. During the dictactorship.I know a lot about the Brazilian dictatorship, I know a bit about Latin America's dictatorships, but I never read a story entirely set in it. It was amazing - and heartbreaking - reading a book about this time in history about a place so close to home, about how life was, about how people lived, about their languages, traditions and struggles.- It's about queer woman.I wanted to do a special list on books with gay women on 29/8 because of the lesbian visibility day and... I realized I hadn't read a lot of books with actual gay women. There are a lot with subtones, and amazing dynamics between female characters, but actually hands down romantic relationships were... scarce.Except for Cantoras. 5 queer women - lesbians, bisexual women, femme lesbians, butch lesbians, gender-non conforming. It was everything to me. It was so important, it was so grand, it made me so happy in ways I wasn't expecting.They were lovers, and then ex-lovers, and friends, and family. Which brings me to...- Found family.Found family is already a trope that touchs every corner of my heart. You add queer characters finding and forming their found family, it pretty much explodes. Now, queer women finding their family during a moment of such repression and fear that is a dictactorship, I have literally no words.- Spanish tid bits.I read this book in English, but I absolutely loved the small bits of Spanish through the book. It was beautiful, and fun, and it made the characters so much more alive. I was very confused by the idea of Cantoras, but once you find out the meaning inside it, it's extremely beautiful.- The characters by themselvesThe characters as a group were amazing, but it doesn't make them any less amazing by themselves. Each of the women had their own suffering, stories, and thought processes.They made mistakes. They hurt each other, they fought, but that is what family is all about.This book had me laughing, and crying, both happy and sad, devastated tears. It's definitely one of my favorite books of the year - if not one of my favorites ever.
    more
  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    Almost all the early reviews I have seen for this book have been glowing reviews referring to this book as a masterpiece. I love books about queer people from perspectives that I have maybe never had access to or whose lives have never been written before. I don't know that I'd go as far as masterpiece for this book, but the writing was lovely and the characters were sympathetic, though something somewhere didn't hold my interest. This was more of a 3 1/2 star book for me. This book follows five Almost all the early reviews I have seen for this book have been glowing reviews referring to this book as a masterpiece. I love books about queer people from perspectives that I have maybe never had access to or whose lives have never been written before. I don't know that I'd go as far as masterpiece for this book, but the writing was lovely and the characters were sympathetic, though something somewhere didn't hold my interest. This was more of a 3 1/2 star book for me. This book follows five Cantoras - or women who sing, a furtive, old school euphemism for lesbians - starting in the mid 1970s when Uruguay was under strict military rule. People could be and were whisked off to prison or vanished for much lesser crimes than being gay, and prison for women always meant rape and torture. After finding each other as friends of friends, or with winks and nods, when the stakes for having a wrong feeling about someone's queerness could be a death sentence, the five women travel to a remote beach where they finally feel they can be themselves. Their friendships evolve and their continued visits to Cabo Polonio become their escapes from their fearful and secretive lives. I enjoyed a lot about this book. The writing was really beautiful. It excelled in showing the subtle ways that queer people find each other, and how the chosen families they form can be lifelines. I just found the book to be a bit slow. Thank you to Knopf and Carolina De Robertis for the advance copy of this book.
    more
  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    Five women gather on an Atlantic beach in Uruguay at the beginning ofCantoras, by Carolina de Robertis, to fully relax for the first time in their lives in the summer of 1977. Flaca, La Venus, Romina, Malena, and Paz are celebrating a two fold escape. The first thing they are escaping is El Proceso—a dictatorship that held the country in an iron grip from 1973 to 1985. They don’t all know that they’ve made their second escape until they start to open up and talk to each other. By the end of the Five women gather on an Atlantic beach in Uruguay at the beginning ofCantoras, by Carolina de Robertis, to fully relax for the first time in their lives in the summer of 1977. Flaca, La Venus, Romina, Malena, and Paz are celebrating a two fold escape. The first thing they are escaping is El Proceso—a dictatorship that held the country in an iron grip from 1973 to 1985. They don’t all know that they’ve made their second escape until they start to open up and talk to each other. By the end of the first day, all of the women admit to being cantoras (lesbians, so-called because they make each other “sing”). By the end of their vacation, the women make a plan to buy a little house in Cabo Polonio to share. Their sudden status as a found family and as shared home owners bind the women together for the next thirty years...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss, for review consideration.
    more
  • Shelby Lynne
    January 1, 1970
    A book I wanted to devour and savor, that healed me and wholed me even as it broke me to pieces, a book that gentled my soul, that left prickles of gooseflesh along my spine as I finished the final lines.
  • Geonn Cannon
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely adored this book. I loved that characters, with all their flaws, and the epic story, and the beautiful language used to tell it. It's definitely in my top ten of the year, and most likely in the top five if I had to narrow it further.
  • Corey
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so beautiful.
  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    100 out of 5 stars. Quite literally the book I've been waiting for. I've been asking the universe for YEARS for a book about queer women that spans decades of their lives--different stories, different personalities, but women who care for each other and build a family. I thought I was going to have to write this myself but De Robertis has done it for me, and in a way that is so much more heartfelt and interesting than I could have ever pulled off. You can tell she's done her research here--and s 100 out of 5 stars. Quite literally the book I've been waiting for. I've been asking the universe for YEARS for a book about queer women that spans decades of their lives--different stories, different personalities, but women who care for each other and build a family. I thought I was going to have to write this myself but De Robertis has done it for me, and in a way that is so much more heartfelt and interesting than I could have ever pulled off. You can tell she's done her research here--and says in the acknowledgments she spent time talking to so many Uruguayan women to capture a collection of truths ready for crafting. The result is truly something special. De Robertis' writing is eloquent, thoughtful. The characters are so lovable I could cry. The plot carries love and pain, isolation and connection, and weaves past and present into a complete, beautiful web. I'll probably end up writing an essay on this at some point, but for now I'll just sing this novel's praises anywhere I can. I so love this book.
    more
  • Nick
    January 1, 1970
    With the Uruguayan coup d'etat of 1973 as the backdrop, this novel tells the story of a group of women who come together to form an insular community that promises to protect its members during the worst years of the dictatorship of Uruguay. I was intrigued by the story, as it touches on aspects of history I always find fascinating. But overall, the book is not really for those interested in political history. It's main driver is the examination of how individual lives are affected by matters of With the Uruguayan coup d'etat of 1973 as the backdrop, this novel tells the story of a group of women who come together to form an insular community that promises to protect its members during the worst years of the dictatorship of Uruguay. I was intrigued by the story, as it touches on aspects of history I always find fascinating. But overall, the book is not really for those interested in political history. It's main driver is the examination of how individual lives are affected by matters of state, military conflict, and societal norms. It is also defiantly optimistic about women's lives and the capacity of oppressed to find happiness and community despite the odds.
    more
  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    Reading CANTORAS was like finding a light switch after years of learning how to walk in the dark. How this book would've changed my life at 15, 16, 17... although at 27, clinging to a raft of queer community through the myriad structural violences, this book was both a roadmap and an embrace. Its foundation in the lived experiences of queer Uruguayan AFAB folx serves as a reminder that our survival isn't the stuff of fiction - it is our history, our inheritance.
    more
  • Arja Salafranca
    January 1, 1970
    ‘What it might mean, what it could possibly mean, for a woman to look at another woman that way.’Let me say at once that I loved this sprawling novel, becoming lost in the story, and captured by women in it. Cantoras refers to singers in Spanish, but it is also slang for women who love women. The novel opens in 1977 when Uruguay is under the rule of a military government and there’s a fear throughout the country – a fear that produces a chilling downtrodden fear in its people. Citizens are arres ‘What it might mean, what it could possibly mean, for a woman to look at another woman that way.’Let me say at once that I loved this sprawling novel, becoming lost in the story, and captured by women in it. Cantoras refers to singers in Spanish, but it is also slang for women who love women. The novel opens in 1977 when Uruguay is under the rule of a military government and there’s a fear throughout the country – a fear that produces a chilling downtrodden fear in its people. Citizens are arrested for little reason, and, of course, homosexuality is forbidden. Flaca is responsible for bringing the women together – and the action centres on a deserted, but beautiful part of Uruguay, in a fisherman’s hut on Cabo Polonia. It is here the women retreat to forget about the repression of their lives back in Montevideo. Flaca brings Anita “La Venus” her love with her, as well as Romina and Malena, all cantoras in their early or mid twenties. The teenage Paz in invited to join them, finding sanctuary among these women. The novel is episodic, moving through the years into the 1980s – as the women make a living, love, fall out of love; and other lovers are brought into their lives and introduced to their home on the Cape. Brutal memories of brief arrest thread through the narrative, while one woman holds out hope that her brother, imprisoned for years, might yet be released one day. De Robertis masterfully blends a portrait of the political with the personal – the time the novel is set in is a backdrop to the action, and informs it. Personal and political are seamlessly blended. My eyes were opened to what life was like under Uruguay’s military rule – something I had scant knowledge of. When the dictatorship is overthrown, the country exhales a long, quiet yet sad sigh for all that has gone before and De Robertis captures the moment in exquisite detail. Cabo Polonia remains a backdrop – a wind-swept place of beach and rocks on the Atlantic Ocean that is evocatively described throughout. But equally, the capital city of Montevideo is another presence in the novel with its winding river and boardwalk and its intimate measures. I was captivated, beguiled and swept along by the women’s stories interspersed with the times described. The novel epilogues in the present time, when the women are older and gay marriage is even now legal. I loved the whimsy of this exchange: ‘Do you ever think about what would happen if you could collapse time and talk to your past self?’ ‘Only when I’m very high,’ said Paz. ‘I’m serious! The past versions of us could be here in this very room, listening.’
    more
  • Abby
    January 1, 1970
    This book is about a group of queer women finding each other and surviving a repressive dictatorship in Uruguay. I know what you’re thinking: that sounds hella depressing, and terrible things do happen to some of the characters (mostly off screen, but towards the end, graphically depicted — more on that later). But the emphasis of this book is on them carving out literal and figurative space for themselves. It’s a story that’s one part Virginia Woolf, one part Boxcar Children, and despite the in This book is about a group of queer women finding each other and surviving a repressive dictatorship in Uruguay. I know what you’re thinking: that sounds hella depressing, and terrible things do happen to some of the characters (mostly off screen, but towards the end, graphically depicted — more on that later). But the emphasis of this book is on them carving out literal and figurative space for themselves. It’s a story that’s one part Virginia Woolf, one part Boxcar Children, and despite the interspersed tragedy, it’s frequently joyful. It’s a book where queer women get to live and fuck and quarrel, to shape their own futures and to love in all kinds of ways. It’s a book where there are deep loves and flirtations and happy coming-out stories and a creation of community, all among women.Which is not to say it’s all roses. (view spoiler)[I was so happy to see all that happiness, so happy to see each character’s growth and successes that I guess I tricked myself into thinking I was finally reading a book where All The Lesbians Live. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. And the ultimate death and fleeting but graphic description of the torture of one of the women made me furious. The violence did suddenly, almost out of nowhere, get turned up to 11, and it felt like a betrayal of the trust I’d placed in the author. (hide spoiler)]The prose can be occasionally didactic — this book has several Important Messages that it wants to be very, very sure it gets across — but unlike a lot of literature, they’re generally moral messages I can get behind. Also, like any book that takes place over a long stretch of time, it frequently has to summarize great expanses of time and events, and that translates to a great deal of telling. Which was occasionally frustrated when a particularly important event would be mentioned in passing and I’d think, “gosh, it sure would have been interesting to read about, you know, that”Ultimately, I think the joys of reading this book outweighed my disappointments. It feels like a bit of a fantasy — a wish fulfillment story for queer women — but it’s not exactly like we get a lot of those, so then let it be that, and let it be celebrated.
    more
Write a review