How are you all doing out there in this new world of ours? Steady as she goes, I hope.
I saw something the other day about kindness being the only way through all of this. I liked that a lot. If you’re like me, you’re looking for little shots of hope every day. Maybe that will be yours today.
I’m planning on sharing a more-in depth update on my work and how the pandemic has impacted Cuba in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I wanted to share two new pieces I have out now.
- Last Thursday, the Wall Street Journal published a book review I wrote about The Cubans, by foreign correspondent Anthony DePalma.
- You can buy the book here or find it on Amazon.
- I’d Absolutely recommend this book for anyone interested in Cuba. It’s non-fiction, packed with first-hand accounts of what life on the island is really like today. You’ll meet a diverse group of fearless Cubans—some still die-hard communists, some never were—who tell powerful stories about their in a totalitarian, socialist country.
- You can find the first 3 paragraphs of my review at the end of this post (I can’t print more under their contract for another 30 days).
- My new essay, Hope Sings, about how Papi’s canaries are keeping him alive during the turmoil and the pandemic, is available in a new anthology: Alone Together: Love, Grief and Comfort in the time of COVID-19
- Writers and publishers donated their work and resources so that all net profits can go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (support for independent book sellers).
- The link above goes to the eBook; the paperback is forthcoming.
During these challenging times, I’m doing all I can to stay connected to loved ones, colleagues, neighbors—to nurture community. Part of that involves you. I want to build something with people who have shown interest in and offered support for my work, hear more of your ideas and reactions to what I’ve written (including excerpts from my book), or whatever is happening on your side of this note.
Thank you for your interest in my writing. When I wonder why I do this work, when I feel alone and doubt I can even write a coherent sentence, I remember that you’ve expressed your support and are rooting for me.
I can’t thank you enough for that. I hope you’ll be with me throughout this strange caper I find myself in, struggling to tell the story of Cuba and Cuban Americans and what I see happening in this absurd and amazing world.
Wishing you and your loved ones great health and huge doses of love and hope.
P.S. – please feel free to write me your ideas and anything you’d like to learn more about at firstname.lastname@example.org
‘The Cubans’ Review: A More Profound Truth
A veteran foreign correspondent takes us behind the romantic veil that hides the day-to-day experiences of ordinary Cubans.
By Ana Hebra Flaster
July 22, 2020 657 pm ET
In 1976, Cary, a young Afro-Cuban woman, sailed out of Havana Harbor with 2,000 fellow students bound for the Soviet Union. They were thrilled to be going to the land that led the global communist movement, where they would earn university degrees that would help them build the Cuba of their dreams. But instead of discovering the thriving revolutionary society she’d heard about from regime officials in Cuba, Cary found herself surrounded by politically apathetic Russian classmates. They laughed at her for wanting to go to the May Day parade—the International Workers’ Day celebration. She realized: “These Russians don’t think the way we do.”
By the end of Anthony DePalma’s remarkable book “The Cubans: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times,” Cary’s faith in the Cuban Revolution and the classless, race-blind system it promised has vanished. She’s gone from a rising star in the Communist Party— she returned from the Soviet Union as an economist and rose to become vice minister of light industry with her own car and driver—to a struggling business owner hunting for needles and thread. Cuba, as the author explains, permits some private businesses to operate, but restricts their growth and the accumulation of wealth. Mr. DePalma gives us an unforgettable analogy that sums up Cary’s plight. Cuba, he says, “is toying with capitalism the way a tiger plays with its prey: tapping it lightly one minute, squeezing the life out of it the next.”
Cary, who has resigned from her state post and redirected her analytical skills toward dressmaking, is one of the intrepid Cubans who opened up to Mr. DePalma, a veteran foreign correspondent, as he set out to capture “a more profound truth” about their country. The author accomplishes this by taking us behind the romantic veil that hides the day-to-day experiences of ordinary Cubans. Their voices are rarely heard, he believes, outside of Cuba and especially inside, where the government represses independent journalists and jails people who criticize it on social media. ”