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Fiction

Paul Vidich’s The Good Assassin raises a number of questions, some of which have to do with the action in this “Cold War spy fiction” that just happens to be set in Havana, on the eve of the triumph of Fidel Castro’s Revolution; and others that have more to do with why we read in the first place.  In other words, what is any particular reader looking for when they open a book? As far as this particular novel goes it is entertaining, to a degree, pacey enough, although it doesSEE DETAILS

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Fiction

The Maids of Havana covers a period of time in which the magnitude of political events could not have been greater, and yet these political developments are presented in a way that indicates both how much and how little the lives of people like Marta were affected by the changes brought about by the triumph of a Marxist Revolution on the island.

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History, Memoirs, Non-fiction

Waldo Frank’s Cuba, Prophetic Island was in many ways prophetic itself.  Written at the express invitation of the revolutionary government that had only recently established itself in Havana, the book was expected to be a portrait of Cuba—and a snapshot of the Revolution—similar to other books Frank had written about Latin America and Spain, books the “younger generation, now in command,” had read and admired. The invitation, of course, would not have come if my past work had not revealed simpatia and what to them seemed comprehension of America Hispana.  ButSEE DETAILS

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Fiction, Story Collections

Those Cubans who have stayed behind and endured—and endurance has certainly been required!—the vagaries and adversities of the Cuban post-revolutionary experience tend to write from the point of view of within, inside, whereas these other writers tend to offer their readers a view, informed as it may be, from without, looking in, and back at the island.

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History, Non-fiction

T.J. English’s Havana Nocturne is not only the story suggested in the subtitle—How the Mob Owned Cuba…and Then Lost It to the Revolution—but the story of how Havana in particular came to earn its reputation as ‘sin city’ during the seven-year U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.  And yet the book provides much more than even this.  English offers readers information ranging from the origins of The Commission founded by Lucky Luciano and the average schooling (and with it the ‘thug’ nature) of American mobsters, to the “ominous mood in the air”SEE DETAILS

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