Museum of Broken Relationships: A Cuban Saga. By Beatriz Rivera. ISBN-13: 978-1985576551. $23.95.
In Upper Town Zagreb (Croatia), near the funicular’s stop at the top, there is a exhibition hall called the Museum of Broken Relationships. That was the inspiration for the title of this novel. True to its name, this institution is a collection of objects left behind after a relationship ends: one stiletto perhaps, or a stuffed caterpillar, or a song such as If you leave me now played over and over again.
"Broken Relationships" is the story of three generations of a Cuban family. It wants to begin around 1904 and continues to the present day. It takes place in Havana, in Miami, in New York State, and in Jerusalem. It also has many flashbacks: from Granada, Spain, to the Canary Islands, to Leysin, Switzerland, to Paris, France.
Julia Basavi has arrived in Jerusalem to finish what her father left undone, recover an old manuscript that he found in Cuba and then left behind in a Jerusalem taxicab. The immediate questions are: How did he go this far out of his way to lose something? And what does the manuscript say? The answer lies in this story that explores broken relationships, twin-hood, doppelgangers, tragi-comedy, disguise, watchers, eternal return, and history that goes all the way back to January 1, 1492, Granada, Spain, a city where three cultures once coexisted.
Tensions mount in Jerusalem and in the United States, which Julia left behind. She—who believes that everything has already happened, at least to her, and who is constantly being given the wrong manuscript by the librarian in the Bethlehem University library—will have to come face to face with a serious and satirical past, a factual and fictional present, and a speculative and historical future.