As Hispanic Heritage Month wraps up this weekend, let’s take one more literary journey to a featured Latino country. This time, we’re heading to Cuba to talk about its rich culture and history. Click on a cover or a title to place a hold.
“The 1930s saw Havana undergoing a seismic cultural renaissance. At night in the aires libres (open air cafes), tourists and foreign investors rubbed shoulders with the likes of Ernest Hemingway as they sipped cocktails, cavorted with Cuban beauties, and listened to suggestive melodies from Havana’s unmatched musical community. It was rare for women to attend, and unheard of for them to perform. But when greengrocer Matias Castro, father of thirteen, goes bankrupt, his eldest daughter has the idea of starting an all-girl band with her sisters–an outrageous idea in macho Cuba, but a surefire money maker. Every evening, as the rum began to flow, Anacaona took to the stage to let rip–jazz, mambo, rumba, and cha-cha–their infectious rhythms, cheeky lyrics, and sheer sex appeal conquer their audiences’ hearts. In this evocative memoir, saxophonist Alicia Castro, now in her eighties, looks back on the Havana of yesterday and the dazzling career of the dance band, from concerts in Paris and New York, to appearances with Dizzy Gillespie, Celia Cruz, Duke Ellington, and Cab Calloway.”
“In modern-day Havana, the remnants of the glamorous past are everywhere–old hotel-casinos, vintage American cars & flickering neon signs speak of a bygone era that is widely familiar & often romanticized, but little understood. In Havana Nocturne, T.J. English offers a multifaceted true tale of organized crime, political corruption, roaring nightlife, revolution & international conflict that interweaves the dual stories of the Mob in Havana & the event that would overshadow it, the Cuban Revolution.”
From the moment Fidel Castro captures Havana in 1959, 17-year-old Sonya believes in the promise of the Cuban Revolution. A medical student who dreams of becoming a painter, she joins the militia and finds herself caught between idealism and ideology. As a volunteer medic at the Bay of Pigs, she’s imprisoned and tortured by her own comrades. Physically and emotionally scarred upon returning home, Sonya searches for fulfillment in art. But when she realizes that none of her efforts, by gun or brush, fall in line with Castro’s regime, Sonya must make agonizing choices between her family, her lover and her beloved country.
The Mortifications by Derek Palacio
“In 1980, a rural Cuban family is torn apart during the Mariel Boat-lift. Uxbal Encarnación–father, husband, political insurgent–refuses to leave behind the revolutionary ideals and lush tomato farms of his sun-soaked homeland. His wife Soledad takes young Isabel and Ulises hostage and flees with them to America, leaving behind Uxbal for the promise of a better life. But instead of settling with fellow Cuban immigrants in Miami’s familiar heat, Soledad pushes further north into the stark, wintry landscape of Hartford, Connecticut. There, in the long shadow of their estranged patriarch, now just a distant memory, the exiled mother and her children begin a process of growth and transformation.”
“In 1961, fearing the communist rule of Fidel Castro, Guillermo Vicente Vidal’s family sent him to America through Operation Peter Pan. He arrived in Colorado and was sent to an orphanage with his brothers, and his family reunited four years later. Fifty years later, he served as Denver’s mayor. This is his story of overcoming incredible odds.”
— Katie, Adult Reference