Annie Dillard, MODERN AMERICAN MEMOIRS, 1995, preface: “some of this century’s finest works of fiction have strongly autobiographical elements,” includes Tolstoy, Henry Roth, Proust, John Updike, Henry Miller, Somerset Maugham, Peter Taylor, Naipaul, Castedo.
Ann Harleman, “Where fiction and poetry are kin, mighty magic is possible,” The Boston Globe, 3/22/98, “quite a few of favorite contemporary fiction writers are also poets; many started that way. John Updike, David Malouf, John Dufresne, Elena Castedo, Grace Paley…”
Moraima Semprun, “A Novel About Exile That is an Exile Itself,” Linden Lane magazine, Princeton, 4-6/90, “Almost all reviewers have termed PARADISE’s prose ‘elegant,’ or ‘finely tuned;’ have mentioned the story’s ‘vividness,’ ‘candor’ or ‘directness,’ its ‘charm,’ have hailed the humor, from irony to satire to the comical, and have used the words ‘marvelous’ or ‘brilliant.’ Most have described the ten year old narrator, as ‘utterly convincing’ and ‘unforgettable.'” The Washington Post,” accomplishes her goals “without rhetorical pyrotechnics,” has “unobtrusive elegance,” and “the voice is frank and sometimes funny.” “deft at seeming to tell us just as much as the narrator would have known, while actually giving us ample information to form our own opinions.” The Washington Times‘s title, “Paradise Found on Author’s First Try.” “to the roll of important or noteworthy youths of American literature add the protagonist of Elena Castedo’s enchanting debut novel.” “the best of American and Latin American [literature] combined, a delightful and disarming novel in which aspects of each tradition infuse the other with new meaning and dimensions.” “pleases on so many levels, it is difficult to identify them all.” The Atlantic Magazine, an “ingenious social satire… Ms Castedo has brought off, with acid wit, the far from easy task of revealing arrogance, folly, injustice and debauchery through the eyes of an observer who does not know what those qualities are.” The New York Times Book Review illustrated half a page, page 8, “filled with rich descriptions and vivid scenes. [the] language is exuberant.” The Christian Science Monitor: “a brilliant job… Solita is an utterly convincing character. Deftly avoids heavy-handed cuteness in favor of understated but powerful irony.” “an intriguing portrait of… Latin American culture and society.” The Boston Herald, “social satire at its zenith.” The Arkansas Gazette: “deftly keeps the tale on track, peppering passages with humor and occasionally flat-out silliness to keep from turning pedantic and preachy.” The Library Journal, “The novel is both startling and charming.” The North Carolina News and the Raleigh Observer, “a novel that is thoughtful, moving and beautifully written.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “the novel’s strength is in Castedo’s ability to build credibly the thinking of a child, with all its incompletions, into a strong narrative.” Hispanic Magazine: [the] prose is “lavish, with its intricate and elegant sentences,” “works quite effectively as a chronicle.” Americas: “a brilliant novel in which the narrative voice never falters. Solita is a touching character”. “raises some complex issues about human nature in general and about Latin society in particular.” The Sun-Gazette: “debut novel… a jewel… explores themes of social commentary and alienation.” “utterly convincing.” “a rich feel of texture and emotion, a well as some biting social commentary, which works on many different levels.” Las Americas: “amazing novel, from one of the most important new voices in contemporary literature is sharp, penetrating, lively, intense and rich.” “intricately complex structure”. “a historical and social vision; one discovers things one had never thought about before.” Linden Lane Magazine, “within the principles of classic literature, [it] displays a series of unusual novelistic techniques.” Potomac Almanac‘s title, “Paradise Soars.” Fairfax Journal‘s title, “A Mesmerizing First Novel,” “a wondrous fist novel.” The Miami Herald and La Prensa, New York, “a success.” The World and I, “With the eye and ear of a poet, the author conjures a powerful and rich animistic universe that resonates beyond the story.” The San Juan Star‘s title, “Castedo Scores in Two Languages.” Publisher’s Weekly, “it may help account for the mainstream success of Elena Castedo.” Bob Edwards, host of National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” “incredible the amount of things that [Paradise is] able to communicate; euphemisms, myths, religion, traditions, the feudal class system.” American Book Review, “a powerful representation of… political change in the Americas.”
Jerzy Kosinski, “If, as it seems, only through adult imaginative projection we gain access to ourselves as children we once were, then Solita, the young girl from Elena Castedo’s Paradise, takes us there together with Miranda from The Tempest of Shakespeare, Agnes from Moliere’s L’Ecole des Femmes, and Little Nell, from The Old Curiosity Shop of Dickens. Robert Stone, “elegant, droll and wise, an enormously pleasurable book. It brings the intensity and originality of the contemporary Latin American novel to the English speaking reader in wonderfully precise, finely tuned prose. Readers will find the scene and the characters unforgettable. It’s absolutely the best novel I have read this year.” Oscar Hijuelos, “Paradise is moving and entertaining, with vibrant prose and vivid scenes. It will move your heart.” Paul West, “American novelists rarely attain Elena Castedo’s fizzy, consecutive elegance; she writes with acrobatic gusto, roaring charm, and a superbly tutored sense of the absurd. Behind the keen-eyed prestidigitations of Solita, her precocious child narrator, there lurks a disciplined, educated mind drawing sustenance and acuity from several national traditions. This is the most ebullient first novel I’ve read in years… a maze of shapely, rippling paragraphs full of delight for the senses.” Richard Bausch, “the verve and subtle music of it’s prose… sense of character and place, her feeling for her fictional creations, [are] extraordinary and I very much admire her brave and stubborn fidelity to the truth. I will not soon forget the book’s wonderfully observant and insightful speaker. Elena Castedo is brilliant… the real article– a world traveler with a brave heart and brains.” Susan Richards Shreve, “a marvelous, insightful and evocative book.” Joyce Kornblatt, “one of modern fiction’s most memorable child-narrators… vividly-rendered… by turns harrowing and comical… with a cast of brilliantly observed eccentrics… an adventurous writer, willing to shock, canny and inventive.” Les Whitten, “In the sunlight of Paradise, we see a young girl’s ancient wisdom in a totally new brilliance. It is a work of irresistible wit, sweetness, perception and beneath them all, power.”
Praised Castedo’s work in writing or verbally:
Joyce Carol Oates (when asked after some of her readings who are her favorite authors has mentioned Castedo), William Kennedy, Sue Miller, Pete Hamill, Alan Cheuse, Oscar Hijuelos, Robert Stone, David Leavitt, Annie Proulx, William Gass, Julia Alvarez, Andre Dubus, Richard Ford, Francisco Goldman, Allan Gurganus, Alfred Kazin, Alison Lurie, Dagoberto Gilb, Elizabeth Strout, Matt Klam, etc.
ABC, 13-4-91, “Critical opinion has been unanimous: Solita, as well as the language and the novel’s structure place Elena Castedo at the forefront of our fiction writers.” El Correo, “deft handling of the art of fiction… a laudable linguistic variety.” El Tiempo, “Critics have been overwhelmingly positive and it’s a great surprise to find a novel and a novelist of this stature in our times, when what passes for literature is so often superficial and lacking in great moral or ideological probing. ??, J. Marco, “novel full of symbols and very accomplished in its use of discourse… a prose that’s juicy, full of argot, poetic and highly skilled. The plot is subtle… the inner character development gets ever more rich and complex. Full of symbolism, efficacious in its language and its structure, psychologically coherent.” El Mundo, “a surprising realism… knows how to tell a story vividly and with humor, to extract irony, never a false move mars the credibility. The narration is fluid.” El Heraldo de Aragon, “to the bursts of humor, the wise elegance of the author, add sincerity.” El Sol, 1-11-91, “it excels due to the lucid profile of its protagonist, the richness of her intuitions and reactions, the penetrating and authentic perspectives… the luxuriant and billowing dialogues.” El Pais, “the skill of its narrative voice.” Las Provincias, “very well constructed. belongs to the clan of unforgettable stories, enters the lineage tree of good novels.” Diario de Ibiza, seduces us for its spontaneity… has managed to approach with skill a difficult and risky subject.” ABC, “an exuberant Castellan language… a character who will be unforgettable for the reader… has managed to portray a complex figure… intuitive, sensible, analytic… a rich prose… a brilliant linguistic provocation.” Diario 16, successfully takes its time to describe sensations… a kind of ceremony of initiation very well carried by the narrative, which describes with equal spontaneity, efficacy and distance… evolves musically. simple elegance…. looks incisively under a benevolent humor.” El Mundo, “Paradise found at the first effort… experience narrated magnificently… adorned with elements that are funny or heart rendering… intelligently puts distance to the painful recollection.” El Periodico de Aragon, “Castedo, the revelation of the times, reconstructs… a personal and intimate history of Spain.” El Independiente, 10-1-91, “Deeply moving and evocative, sometimes cruel, other times startling.” El Independiente, 1-91, “meticulous linguistic oeuvre… the novel never falters and maintains at all times its high caliber… manages to draw a neat ideological framework.” El Independiente, 14-4-91, “a novel with all the strength of expression, all the will to find truth.” El Independiente, 14-4-91, “one of the most precious examples of the unending ramifications of the Spanish language.” Tribuna, “it also has a structure meticulous to its last detail, like those Chinese boxes that fit perfectly inside others.” Hola, “A formidable book, which is already almost a legend, and has unleashed showers of brilliant articles.” La Nueva Espana, the prose flows free and impetuous. belongs to the family of those stories that will be always remembered.” El Pais and Diario 16 paraphrase: “It would be difficult to find a more appropriate phrase to describe [Paradise] than `the author found paradise on her first try.'”
MEDIA, LATIN AMERICA:
Mexico: Excelsior and La Nacion; Chile: La Tercera, La Epoca, Las Ultimas Noticias, La Segunda, Diario Financiero, La Cuarta, Analisis, La Nacion, Resena, Vanidades, Paula, Caras, El Mercurio: “Constructed in several stylistic levels, it promises to be a classic in the history of literature.” “Be prepared to be delighted, impatient, surprised and laugh with a fiction form that is not magic realism or realism, but simply intelligent, poetic, truthful and fabulous.” “It’s been years since we’ve read a novel so creative, subtle, warm, human, brisk, refreshing, delicate and disturbing.” “Wins us with one stroke of vivid mastery.” “A narrative feat, a solid, concise prose.” “A character credible beyond measure who has dazzled critics with the oldest and honest of methods: the language.” “Has reached heights not achieved until now by a modern Spanish writer,” “A rare blaze glowing in the literary world all over the globe.”