Carlos Acosta’s debut novel, Pig’s Foot, is out now, published by Bloomsbury.
Pig’s Foot by Carlos Acosta, translated from Spanish by Frank Wynne
From a small hamlet of wooden shacks and red earth deep in the Cuban hinterland comes a big tale of revolution, family secrets, love and identity across three generations.
One day Oscar Kortico wakes to find himself utterly alone in the world. As the sole descendant of his family line, he is not sure what to do or where he should go, but amid this uncertainty, he holds fast to what his grandfather always told him: ‘No man knows who he is until he knows his past, the history of his country.’
As he sets out to find the lost village of Pata de Puerco and the meaning of the magical pig’s-foot amulet he has inherited, the search for his country’s hidden history becomes entangled with his search for the truth about himself.
Through a vivid if not entirely faithful retelling of the stories of his ancestors, we live the tumultuous history of Cuba through Oscar’s eyes, from the arrival of enslaved people through the wars of independence to dictatorship, Bacardi rum, revolution and, finally, to a freedom of sorts.
No Way Home: A Cuban Dancer’s Story
The rags-to-riches story of one of the world’s greatest dancers, from his difficult beginnings living in poverty in the backstreets of Cuba to his astronomical rise to international stardom.
In 1980, Carlos Acosta was just another Cuban kid of humble origins, the youngest son in a poor family named after the planter who had owned his great-great-grandfather. Carlos spent his days on the streets with few options and an independent spirit, dreaming of a football career.
But even at a young age, Carlos had extraordinary talent. At nine, he skipped school to win break-dancing competitions as the youngest street-gang member for whom dance contests were only a step away from violence. When Carlos’s father enrolled him in ballet school, he hoped to nurture his son’s talent and curb his wildness. Years of loneliness, conflict and crippling physical effort followed, but today the Havana street kid is an international star.
However, this magical memoir is about more than Carlos’s rise to stardom. It is the story of a childhood where food is scarce, but love is abundant, and where the soul of Cuba comes alive to influence a dancer’s art. It is also about a man forced to leave behind his homeland and loved ones for a life of self-discipline, displacement and brutal physical hardship. Carlos Acosta makes dance look effortless, but the grace, strength and charm have come at a cost – here, in his own words, is the story of the price he paid.