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Death of a Tango King

Jerome Charyn: Death of a Tango King (USA 1998)

From the Publisher:
Yolanda's a convict, caught by the cops while her boyfriend was robbing a bank. Now all the Hell Sisters at Harrington Hills prison farm are in love with her. Their leader wants to "marry" her. Yolanda has to find a way out. She's been taking a philosophy course in jail from Melvin P. Sparks, a Cornell professor who talks to the female convicts once a week about ecology, in galoshes and a torn shirt. But it's only a disguise. He's actually a member of the Christian Commandos, a ragtag group of environmental rangers who aren't quite soldiers or spies.

Yolanda happens to be the cousin of Ruben Falcone, king of the Medellín cartel. The rangers want to meet with Ruben, who's hiding in the jungles of Colombia, while a dozen agencies destroy the rain forest tracking him. Sparks helps Yolanda get out of jail, whisking her off to Mandellín to find her long lost cousin.

And so begins a journey that takes Yolanda into a crazy, comic heart of darkness, where nothing is ever as it seems, where a druglord can be a minister of environment, where Yolanda dances in a hundred rumbeaderos with different tango kings--all of them marked for death--and where she's sucked into the current of a world she only half understands. Death of a Tango King is a sad, funny, and disturbing novel about the coming of a new century, where the distance between right and wrong is not only irregular, but also hard to find.

Jerome Charyn: Death of a Tango King. New York University Press, ISBN: 0814715753 (August, 1998), 216 p., $25.00.


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