Anita de Monte Laughs Last

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Pub Date 5 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 5 Mar 2024

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Who gets to leave a legacy?

1985. Anita de Monte, a rising star in the art world, is found dead in New York City; her tragic death is the talk of the town. Until it isn’t. By 1998 Anita’s name has been all but forgotten – certainly by the time Raquel, a third-year art history student is preparing her final thesis. On College Hill, surrounded by progeny of film producers, C-Suite executives, and international art-dealers, most of whom float through life knowing that their futures are secured, Raquel feels herself an outsider. Students of colour, like Raquel, are the minority there, and the pressure to work twice as hard for the same opportunities is no secret.

But when Raquel becomes romantically involved with a well-connected older art student, she finds herself unexpectedly rising up the social ranks. As she attempts to straddle both worlds, she stumbles upon Anita’s story, raising questions about the dynamics of her own relationship, which eerily mirrors that of the forgotten artist.

Moving back and forth through time and told from the perspectives of both women, Anita de Monte Laughs Last is a propulsive, witty examination of power, love and art, daring to ask who gets to be remembered and who is left behind in the rarefied world of the elite.

Who gets to leave a legacy?

1985. Anita de Monte, a rising star in the art world, is found dead in New York City; her tragic death is the talk of the town. Until it isn’t. By 1998 Anita’s name has...

Advance Praise

'Rollicking, melodic, tender and true. And oh so very wise'

Robert Jones, Jr., author of The Prophets

Praise for Xochitl Gonzalez

'Don’t underestimate this new novelist. She’s jump-starting the year with a smart romantic comedy that lures us in with laughter and keeps us hooked with a fantastically engaging story'

Washington Post

'The sharpest and best written social comedy in a while'

Los Angeles Times

'An astounding new voice'


'Rollicking, melodic, tender and true. And oh so very wise'

Robert Jones, Jr., author of The Prophets

Praise for Xochitl Gonzalez

'Don’t underestimate this new novelist. She’s jump-starting the year...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781526676238
PRICE £16.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 32 members

Featured Reviews

Truly, 5 is not enough stars for this book.

The story follows two strands - Anita de Monte is a Cuban artist who is married to Jack Martin. Anita is wild, free, passionate and at the beginning of her career whereas Jack is a brutalist/minimalist sculptor who is at the height of his. However as Anita's star begins to rise Jack becomes increasingly critical and then violent which erupts tragically one night, the consequence of which is that Anita goes "out the window" to her death. Suicide or murder?

The second strand follows Raquel, an art history student desperate to fit in at her Ivy League college. She thinks her prayers have been answered when Nick Fitzsimmons notices her. Nick's family are so establishment they might as well have come over on the Mayflower.

History begins to repeat itself as Raquel tries to fit into Nick's world by erasing her whole identity. But will writing her thesis about Jack Martin change the Raquel's new version of herself.

So at this point I should say a quick thankyou to another GR reviewer who has pointed me to an artist called Ana Mendieta who I had never heard of (nor had I heard of her husband, Carl Andre) or their story on which this book is so clearly based. So thankyou, Jessica Woodbury.

I can't think of many things I like so much in s novel as to be so engaged in the story that I talk to the characters. I did that almost constantly throughout this exceptional novel.

I loved it even though it absolutely drove me crazy to see these women twisting themselves into pretzels to be what their men wanted them to be. I'm not sure I've been quite this engaged or enraged by a book in a long time. Xóchitl Gonzàlez's characters bounce off the page. The writing is visceral, brutal amd emotive. It forces you to confront domestic abuse and coercive control head on.

It's an absolutely brilliant piece of work that's had me fumbling about to learn more about the work of Ana Mendieta. And for that alone I'd thank the author. However I thank her more for giving me a book to really sink my teeth into.

Very highly recommended.

Thanks so much to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for the advance review copy. I'm going to do some deep breathing to calm down now.

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In "Anita de Monte Laughs Last," Gonzalez crafts a gripping narrative that spans two tumultuous decades, chronicling the lives of two remarkable women, Anita and Raquel. Against the backdrop of shifting cultural landscapes in 1980's and 1990;s, Gonzalez masterfully weaves a tale of resilience, ambition, and justice.

Anita, a tenacious Cuban artist, battles against the suffocating grip of an overbearing artist husband who begrudges her burgeoning success. The novel captures the tension between Anita's artistic aspirations and the oppressive control of her spouse Jack. The story takes a tragic turn as Anita meets her untimely demise at the hands of her jealous husband, sparking a relentless pursuit of justice.

Fast forward to Rachel, a determined Hispanic student in an esteemed American college, grapples with societal expectations and prejudice. As she navigates the complexities of a relationship with a wealthy white classmate, Gonzalez deftly portrays the stark disparities in privilege and lifestyle. Rachel's journey unfolds as a poignant exploration of societal divides, drawing readers into the contrasting worlds of social classes and cultures.

"Anita de Monte Laughs Last" emerges as a compelling testament to the enduring strength of women in the face of adversity. Gonzalez's prose is both vivid and evocative, breathing life into each era. This thought-provoking and emotionally charged story leaves a lasting impression, inviting readers to reflect on the resilience and triumphs of women throughout time.

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Anita de Monte truly did laugh last in this fantastic piece by Xochitl Gonzalez, author of Olga Dies Dreaming. This story is narrated through the POV of 3 characters; Anita, a Cuban artist raised in foster care in Iowa. Jack, a white American artist and Anita's husband. Raquel, a Hispanic art student attending Brown University in Providence raised in New York by her mum. Anita's and Jack's timeline starts from around 1985 and Raquel's timeline from 1998 until all characters end up on the same timeline.

This is the story of Anita, a Cuban artist in New York, who is constantly navigating the world of art. A world which is made of "first world art" and "third world art". Her relationship and marriage to Jack is the perfect example to what we call a 'toxic relationship'. Full of abuse and projections due to his insecurities, always trying to hold Anita back so he feels bigger. Thus, Anita finds herself navigating a world and relationship full of racial micro-aggressions. It all ends for Anita with a tragedy but Anita lives on after her death in the most satirical way.

Meanwhile, about a decade later, Raquel is experiencing the same racial micro-aggressions while studying art at Brown University. She also ends up in a very similar relationship to that of Jack and Anita. However, the most prevalent part of Raquel's timeline is the realisation that white men have such control that they are able to erase parts of history completely. In this case, the eradication of Anita de Monte and her work from art history.

With themes of racism, micro-aggression, emotional abuse, domestic violence and Santeria beliefs, this is a must read! I found it a little slow paced at first but I felt that at one point it really picked up and I could not let it go. I also cannot stop thinking of the story and the brilliance and relevance of the themes found within. Which is why this is a 5 star read for me.

Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and Netgalley for sending me this ARC.

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This book was utterly gripping and I couldn’t put it down. It’s so ferocious, so powerful and totally brilliant.

We have two timelines, Anita de Monte, an artist living in New York who was originally from Cuba. We start with her death in 1985 and then have chapters of the previous years where we learn her history, her art and inspiration, her husband and their turbulent relationship. We also have chapters from Raquel’s perspective, an art student and hip-hop radio presenter who is studying Anita’s husband for her thesis. This leads her to discover Anita’s work and her shocking death.

This book is exciting as is but what I loved about it was how raw the writing felt. It felt like such an honest and passionate outpouring. I was absolutely captivated.

Some of the content is hard to read and trigger warnings for assault and abusive relationships. However it never felt gratuitous, it always felt like it was necessary to understand the rage of the characters. We also see Xenophobia and prejudice explored in this book.

I haven’t read this author’s previous book but I certainly want to after reading this. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I read an eARC of this book so thank you to the author, the publisher and Net Galley.

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Wow! Just wow. That's my reaction to this truly outstanding book. As someone who has always loved art in literature (to the point that I wrote a comparative lit essay around 'The Flanders Panel' and 'The Girl with the Pearl Earring'), I was hoping that this book would be right up my street. I couldn't have been more correct.

From the vivid, raw descriptions of the artwork, and the emotions that are so deeply tied into it, to the strong women that are the central characters of the novel, every page was a joy to read. The parallels, and later divergences between Anita and Raquel were masterfully balanced, as was the switching in both times and perspectives. Even the characters that you love to hate were well-written, and well-rounded terrible people.

This book, and everything it entails is a damning indictment of the artistic world, and the white-centric, male-dominated spaces that write the history we read, the lessons we learn, and the art we see, to the detriment of the incredible talents of women in the global majority. Xochitl Gonzalez shines a light on this, and if you aren't incensed at various points, you're not reading the same book as me!

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