Picks and Pans Review: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

updated 12/25/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/25/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Oscar Hijuelos

So evocative you can hear the congas and smell the garlic, Hijuelos's rich novel follows a Cuban band to New York City in the late '40s and '50s. The Mambo Kings are more ambitious than talented, which is hardly true of Hijuelos—and this is a very ambitious novel.

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