Roberto Lobo receives anonymous calls in the night. Voices whisper threats in his ear. His fear drives him to seek the help of Ideliza Mercado, Princess Papaya and Priestess of the Barrio. Roberto hopes Princess Papaya’s powerful knowledge of santería will end his torment. Hiding in the shadows is Ideliza and Roberto’s deaf-mute son, Bembé. Across the city, Victoria Lobo, a Jewish, Cuban-American poet, mourns the death of her husband, Francisco, until a chance meeting with Bembé brings her closer to her brother and the disappearance that has plagued her family for twenty years.
From this web of characters spins an intense story of desire and intrigue, forging the lives of Roberto and his sister, Victoria; Ideliza Mercado and her son, Bembé; and Cooper, a mysterious stranger who is more involved in their stories than they may guess. A corral of unique characters populate this rhapsodic, magically real tour de force: a hydrocephalic child with uncanny spiritual powers, a doctor whose greed precipitates a descent into his worst nightmares, a grieving poet struggling to regain her muse, and a man who fights to survive torture and the neglect of his family.
Taking us from the 9-11 tragedy in New York City to the political dungeons in Cuba to the vineyards of Santa Barbara, Novas weaves together santería, gender identity, sexuality politics and the resistance movement in contemporary Cuba.