Adios, Happy Homeland

Adios, Happy Homeland

by Ana Menendez
     
 

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In this follow-up to her beloved, prize-winning debut, In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Ana Menéndez delivers a liberating, magical, and modern take on the idea of migration and flight.

Adios, Happy Homeland! is a wildly innovative collection of interlinked tales that challenge our preconceptions of

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Overview

In this follow-up to her beloved, prize-winning debut, In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Ana Menéndez delivers a liberating, magical, and modern take on the idea of migration and flight.

Adios, Happy Homeland! is a wildly innovative collection of interlinked tales that challenge our preconceptions of storytelling. This critical look at the life of the Cuban writer pulls apart and reassembles the myths that have come to define her culture, blending illusion with reality and exploring themes of art, family, language, superstition, and the overwhelming need to escape—from the island, from memory, from stereotype, and, ultimately, from the self. We’re taken into a sick man’s fever dream as he waits for a train beneath a strange night sky, into a community of parachute makers facing the end in a windy town that no longer exists, and onto a Cuban beach where the body of a boy last seen on a boat bound for America turns out to be a giant jellyfish.

With Adios Happy Homeland!, Menéndez puts a contemporary twist on the troubled history of Cuba and offers a wry and poignant perspective on the conundrum of cultural displacement. Smart, accessible, and literary, it is a captivating portrayal of how stories are translated, (mis)interpreted, and shaped across time and traditions.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In her fourth book (after The Last War), Menéndez brings schizophrenic bravado to an ostensible anthology of fictional Cuban poets and writers (a group to which Menéndez herself claims membership) whose works have been collected by Herberto Quain, an Irishman. In his prologue, dated 1936, Quain recounts how a childhood fascination with Cuba led him to a job at the National Library in Havana. The stories that follow speak to his editorial authority and to Cuban literature with equal parts bright humor and strained artifice. In "Cojimar," Ernesto del Camino writes about an old man and the sea in a style that will be familiar to many. In "The Boy Who Was Rescued by Fish," a group of female co-workers use a self-help book to become "possibilitarians." In addition to shorts, poems, and a "Glossary of Caribbean Winds," the book includes a conflict between the authors and their editor; in an e-mail dated 1923, they question Quain's decision to unite such diverse writers under the "Cuban" banner and challenge his authority as a non-Cuban. His retort, dated 1912, hints at his ultimate goal—not so much a study of Cuban authorship as a meditation on fiction: "It is you who are invented, not I." The playfulness is both annoying and admirable. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd, Menéndez's collection of linked stories about Cuban immigrants in Miami, got her some good attention when it appeared in 2001; her follow-ups have also done well. Her latest title, again a collection of linked stories, looks at appearance and reality in the life of a Cuban American writer. Watch it, she's good; especially for your literary readers.
From the Publisher

"Marvelous . . . What makes this book so liberating is the way it plays tricks with language and perception, offering glimpses of inner lives that are almost too inventive for words." —More

"Arrestingly brilliant."—Junot Diaz (interview with The Rumpus)

"Dazzling . . . As bold in its execution as in its conception . . . It is rare enough for an American writer to muster the energy to construct such an intricate work; it is unthinkably rarer for such formal intricacies to serve some aesthetic or philosphical purpose beyong themselves. But this is precisely the case with Adios, Happy Homeland! Menendez's fictions are never content merely to display their finely wrought strangeness. Almost every text 'collected' here would, considered on their own, outshine in comparison the majority of American short fiction; take together, the effect is vertiginously powerful. . . . An effortless, balletic braiding of the subjective and the objective." —The National

"Ana Menendez's fiction—her stories, even when disguised as philosophy or poetry or journalism or tongue-in-cheek humor—are always more imaginative, vital, and puzzling than expected . . . Excellent examples of contemporary short fiction at its finest . . . remarkably diverse . . . Menendez's writing is crystal clear. She has both the courage and the vitality to evoke many diverse voices in such a convincing way. It's a joy to read such uncluttered, unabashed, and vivd prose, and to penetrate more deeply into contemporary Cuba's still unrevealed heart."—The Rumpus

"A thought-provoking, humorous, sometimes dizzying collection . . . [with] graceful, poignant lyricism . . . A brilliant and inventive work: fractured, layered storytelling conveys the unsettling experience and shifting sense of indentity that exile brings."—The Huffington Post

"Ana Menendez lets her imagination soar with this nonlinear, unpredictable, and challenging book. . . . Toys with conventional notions of time, space, and casuality. . . . She hooks you, her beginnings are often flawless. . . . Radiates deep affection for [Cuba]." —The Miami Herald

"Can only be described one way: enthralling . . . Menendez has invented an ingenious collection. . . . Fabulous . . . incredibly quirky and endlessly enjoyable . . . A refreshing piece of modern literature . . . A great perspective on the wild imaginations that we develop."—Examiner.com

“Everywhere you turn in Adios, Happy Homeland! you find a beautiful meld of tradition and modernism, an admirable mastery of irony, and a lyrical deposition on exile and homecoming. Take this balloon ride across the Carib-Cubano-Americano sea and landscape and you will relish the view."—Alan Cheuse

“A deft, playful collection . . . Revitalizing . . . Part love song to Cuban literature and lore, part Borgesian encyclopedia of the subspecies of flight, part questioning of the very conditions of fiction-making—and all charming.”—Kirkus Reviews

"[Menendez] begins with a blend of Cuban history, myths, and tales of escape from the island, and adds irony and humor to create linked stories full of hope, struggles to transcend our earthly ties, and longing to return to what one hopes to flee. She plays with reality as though it were a puzzle, mixing and rearranging the pieces. . . . Menendez's voice is a vital force in Latino literature, brimming with a distinctive magical realism woven out of both traditional and modern elements of the everday wiorld." —Booklist

“Innovative . . . A necessary purchase for Cuban American collections.”—Library Journal

"Never have I had so many expectations—of both literature and people—overturned in one book. . . . Adios, Happy Homeland! tears apart the flat picture of Latin America and the Caribbean that has been painted over the past few decades. . . . One of the most honest books I have ever encountered . . . Strange and wonderful . . . What emerges from the tangle of narratives that makes up Adios, Happy Homeland! is a meditation on the ways that literature and identity intersect. . . . An act of literary destruction . . . Menendez pulls the carpet out from under us, and we must start seeing the world afresh."—New World Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

A deft, playful collection of linked stories about migration, flight, (mis)translation, the joys and disfigurements of myth—that is, about Cuba.

The fourth book of fiction and second collection (In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd, 2001, etc.) by Cuban-American journalist Menéndez consists of 27 fragments of varying lengths, but it's not a miscellany. There's plenty of metafictional apparatus (a prologue by an Irish transplant to Havana, a lyrical dream-parable by a persona named Ana Menéndez in which she says that "Details are stupid and unreal" and urges us not to "get sucked in by my lies"). There are little riffs or games, such as the story that consists of Google translations of iconic Cuban poems. There are tributes to Cuban writers (Alejo Carpentier, Jose Martí and others). There are also more traditional stories—often with magical elements—like "The Parachute Makers," which ends, as several of these stories do, with a protagonist taking to the air to escape. In another book, all this intellectual superstructure might seem clunky or stilted, but in the case of a book about Cuba—especially a book about the emigre's longing for a Cuba that is now mythical and that may always have been, a Cuba made up of a few obsessive themes and metaphors—it works well, revitalizing the old tropes and stories by giving them a new setting and emphasis. This is most evident in a brace of Elián González stories, especially "The Boy Who Was Rescued by Fish," in "Glossary of Caribbean Winds" and in "The Boy Who Fell from Heaven," which begins with a list, grading from fact into fiction, of Cubans who've stowed away in the wheel wells of jets departing Havana.

Part love song to Cuban literature and lore, part Borgesian encyclopedia of the subspecies of flight, part questioning of the very conditions of fiction-making—and all charming.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802170842
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
08/02/2011
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
495,559
Product dimensions:
4.84(w) x 7.32(h) x 0.76(d)

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