Life in the ring

Beautiful and intriguing, Cristina García’s novel The Lady Matador’s Hotel is as much a long poem as a novel. It follows the lives of six men and women: an ex-guerrilla turned waitress, a German international adoptions lawyer, a Japanese-Mexican-American matadora (female bullfighter), an immoral colonel who committed barbaric behavior during the country’s civil war, a Cuban poet and an abusive Korean manufacturer. Their lives cross each other in a nameless Central American city in a country on the verge of collapse, where they discover that the only constant in the world is change and that the past never dies. Using “The News” as an omnipresent force that offers views of the public (a mixture of truth and lies) and butterflies as a symbol of growth and wisdom, García offers a deep critique of violence and oppression, layered with an insistence for living an exciting life on the edge—or in the ring.