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Explosion in a Cathedral (Spanish title: El Siglo de las Luces, The Century of Lights) is a historical novel by Cuban writer and musicologist Alejo Carpentier. The book follows the story of three privileged Creole orphans from Havana, as they meet French adventurer Victor Hugues and get involved in the revolutionary turmoil that shook the Atlantic World at the end of the eighteenth century. Originally published in 1962, this is one of the most influential works written during the so-called "Latin American Boom". Regarded as one of Latin America's greatest historical novels, Explosion in a Cathedral deals with the impact of the French Revolution on the Caribbean. The main characters are all members of one family: two siblings, Carlos and Sofia, and their cousin Esteban. The narrative deals with the cyclical nature of control, destruction, and development during revolution. Stylistically, it contains elements of existentialism and magical realism, and it mirrors the tension between Europe and Latin America found in many of Carpentier's other works.
Alejo Carpentier y Valmont (December 26, 1904 – April 24, 1980) was a Cuban novelist, essayist, and musicologist who greatly influenced Latin American literature during its famous "boom" period. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Carpentier grew up in Havana, Cuba; and despite his European birthplace, Carpentier strongly self-identified as Cuban throughout his life. He traveled extensively, particularly in France, and to South America and Mexico, where he met prominent members of the Latin American cultural and artistic community. Carpentier took a keen interest in Latin American politics and often aligned himself with revolutionary movements, such as Fidel Castro's Communist Revolution in Cuba in the mid-20th century. Carpentier was jailed and exiled for his leftist political philosophies.