Before Night Falls

“Before Night Falls” by Reinaldo Arenas (Cuba)

Review

Readers had mixed feelings about this book, with some liking it while others found it hard to read. They described the writing style as being inconsistent as they found some passages well written, whereas others felt very mechanistic. Some readers also thought that there were a bit too many erotic scenes, which broke up the flow of the literary, historical and political aspects he was describing. They also felt that there were a lot of exaggerations which made them question his objectivity as a narrator of certain events. Readers found the passages describing the persecution of homosexuals and the prison conditions especially disturbing. Overall, the book averaged a 7 out of 10.

The theme this season is “Book to Film Adaptations”. Released in 2000, the film adaptation is directed by Julian Schnabel. The role of Reinaldo Arenas is played by Javier Bardem, who won Best Actor Award at the Venice International Film Festival and was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Everyone agreed that the actors were all excellent and they loved the cameo appearance of Johnny Depp as Bon-Bon! They found the scenery beautiful and liked the music. They also enjoyed the newsreel footage of the arrival of Castro in Havana at the beginning of the socialist revolution as they felt it added authenticity to the film. Like with all adaptations though, viewers felt that some scenes lacked in depth and their reading of the book helped their understanding of what was happening on these occasions. Exceptionally this time most viewers would recommend just watching the film as it took the best from the book and made an excellent adaptation.

Synopsis

Arenas recounts his journey from a poverty-stricken childhood in rural Cuba to his death in New York four decades later. He tells of his odyssey from young rebel fighting for the Revolution, through his suppression as a writer, his disillusionment with Castro… Read more

Season 12 – “Book to Film Adaptations” (Sep 2010 – Jan 2011)

“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan)
“The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd (U.S.)
“Before Night Falls” by Reinaldo Arenas (Cuba)
“Brick Lane” by Monica Ali (U.K.)
“Disgrace” by J.M. Coetzee (South Africa) *

* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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