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Cantoras  By  cover art

Cantoras

By: Carolina De Robertis
Narrated by: Carolina De Robertis
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Publisher's Summary

"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 35 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.

©2019 Carolina De Robertis (P)2019 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

Critic Reviews

“A lyrical, richly sensory novel about a group of renegade cantoras - slang for queer women - who claim a beach refuge during the worst years of the dictatorship in Uruguay, and beyond. Together they steal time from oppression of all kinds, unspooling the infinity of themselves. Pointedly relevant to our own dangerous age, Carolina De Robertis has gifted us a majestic work of song and imagination, a handbook to survival for us all.” (Cristina García, author of Here in Berlin)

“Rich and luscious, De Robertis’ writing feels like a living thing, lapping over the reader like the ocean. Carefully crafted and expertly observed, each sentence is an elegant gift...A stunning novel about queer love, womanhood, and personal and political revolution.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred)

“I loved Cantoras. I rooted for these remarkable women during every step of their journey and found myself weeping in gratitude and happiness in the final pages.” (Lisa See, author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane)

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What listeners say about Cantoras

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Relatable

If you read the synopsis of this book, you wouldn't think it, but it's incredibly relatable. It is a LGBTQ+ book set in politically charged 1970's South America and is an all female lead. You might ask, how is that relatable? Well, it's a story about being accepted as yourself and finding a place that you can be that version of you. I think we've all struggled with that regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity and political associations. Also, it helps that it was beautifully written. Enjoy!

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Excruciating to get through

You know when you go to the buffet, and you load your plate up with tons of food options, only to leave feeling disappointed; well, that’s how I’d describe this book. It took me weeks to get through the first 3-4 chapters! The character development and story lines were messy. This book could have just focused on Malena and/or “La Venus” because they had solid backgrounds, but the writer failed to develop the characters until the last chapter or two. This book had five “main” characters, whom had intersecting storylines, but unfortunately, it was only surface level. Such a disappointment. It is frustrating, for a reader, to connect with a book -particularly because the writer was sloppy about merging various characters together. I couldn’t keep track of who was with whom, it failed on many levels. Save your audible token on another book

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Marvelous story, excellent narration

What an amazing and important story, gorgeously told. I feel privileged to have engaged in the lives of these five women, the cantoras of the title, and I learned much about love and about the history of Uruguay. Often I feel that an author should not narrate her own book — rarely are authors also voice artists — but Carolina‘s narration was superb, truly flawless. I kept wanting to stop what else I was doing so I could keep listening to this book! Highly
recommended.

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A beautiful, modern LGBTQ classic!

I’m in tears at the beauty and scope of this book. The characters’ stories, struggles and triumphs over the years of Uruguayan dictatorship to (almost) present day will deeply touch you heart. It’s the story of a family of female friends- a chosen family bonded by their queerness, finding safety in the seclusion of a tiny beachside hut where they always return. Elegantly written, I must now purchase a printed copy. I want to savor the artistry of words on the page. Kudos and congratulations to Mrs. De Robertis for securing a spot in the canon of LBGTQ and Latin American literature. The world is better for your work! (Oh, and the narration was perfecto!)

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Such a beautiful story of women and love

I really enjoyed the unique backgrounds of each women. Loved listening to their lives unfold through the years.

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I love the book with my whole heart <3

I love the book with my whole heart. When I decided to check out the audiobook right after finishing the paperback, I did not know I would also end up falling in love with this version. Narrated by the author, I knew listening to Cantoras would bring me closer to the characters, closer to the story.

And did it ever.

Revisiting the book after only one month since finishing it for the first time and flipping through the pages everyday for the past weeks, I’d say a sizable chunk of the writing was already forever seared into my memory. The intensity Cantoras initially brought has now pulsed to a softer, yet forever aching throb in my heart, and I can finally experience the beautiful joy and wholesomeness of the book amidst the heartbreak of it all.

The pacing felt a bit different upon reread; the story seemed to be faster but in more details at the same time. With the calming flow of De Robertis’s voice, the listening experience was like hearing a friend reminiscing the past, a past which I shared from reading the evocative writing last month. The voices of the characters weren’t exactly what I had expected. But much like the higher pitched, almost hilarious voice of Romina, yet so filled with resilience and surety, everything works perfectly. We have the soft, “honey-coated” voice of Malena, the deeper, more powerful one of Flaca, the rather sultry, breathy voice of La Venus, and the energetic, younger voice of Paz. It was wonderful to hear how the words were spoken, how the author sounded out the rhythm in the sentences, and how the cantoras banter back and forth. Threaded in the dialogues were affection, familiarity, playfulness, and pain, and through the audio, the personalities of the characters were more vivid, the group dynamics even more vibrant.

There is so much to this book that even reading it for the second time, I still find new gems among the words. Listening made it almost impossible to miss the details—details that killed me a little inside, that made me want to claw at my heart, to scream and cry and crumple all at the same time, and details that put a content smile on my face, my heart relieved and happy for the characters. My love for the cantoras grew, shifted for some but stronger and deeper.

And when I look up to the sky at night and see the moon, be it “a meager slice” or not, it feels comforting to know that they, the cantoras, have shared the view of the same moon with me, as time and space collapse into one.

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Beautiful Story

beautiful story of incredibly charming women in an inspiring time and place. Tears of both sorrow and joy

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a story for everyone

see the azpn page for this book for my full review, but I will say Carolina DeRobertis gave an incredible vocal performance and I can't wait to hear her read again, whether it be at a reading or for one of her other books.

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A Good read

I liked the fact that the author was able to communicate the ugly stuff that was going on without being so graphic that it gave me nightmares. That's not an easy feat so kudos to her!

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A little slow for me.

I didn’t realize what the topic was when I started this book. Parts of it moved too slowly for me. Things got interesting when she went to the “clinic”!