Cuba--Going Back / Edition 1

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Imagine being unable to return to your homeland for thirty-six years. What would you do if you finally got a chance to go back?

In 1996, after travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba were relaxed, Cuban exile Tony Mendoza answered that question. Taking his cameras, notebooks, and an unquenchable curiosity, he returned for his first visit to Cuba since summer of 1960, when he emigrated with his family at age eighteen. In this book he presents over eighty evocative photographs accompanied by a beautifully written text that mingles the voices of many Cubans with his own to offer a compelling portrait of a resilient people awaiting the inevitable passing of the socialist system that has failed them.

His photographs and interviews bear striking witness to the hardships and inequalities that exist in this workers' "paradise," where the daily struggle to make ends meet on an average income of eight dollars a month has created a longing for change even in formerly ardent revolutionaries. At the same time, Cuba—Going Back is an eloquent record of a personal journey back in time and memory that will resonate with viewers and readers both within and beyond the Cuban American community. It belongs on the shelves of anyone who values excellent photography and well-crafted prose.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In 1996 after a 36-year absence, Mendoza--a photographer by trade--returned to his native Cuba. This book, based on the photos and interviews he conducted on his trip, is a remarkable first-hand account of today's Cuba. Burdened both by the loss of Soviet aid and the American embargo, he concludes, Cuba is a testimony to the failure of Castro's socialism. He reports that he encountered very few Castro supporters and found numerous Cubans willing to speak out against the failed social experiment. He often heard them say "Fidel is no economist"--something he reflects upon through the lens of his camera. Like others, Mendoza decides that Cubans would be better off if the United States did not push so hard for an end to Castro and left him alone to deal with failure. Similar to Andrei Codrescu's Ay, Cuba! (LJ 3/1/99), this volume is best summarized in a series of photos of a Havana park bench. In each succeeding photo, the bench, much like Cuba, is dismantled by time and the very people its aims to please. Highly recommended for most libraries.--Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ.Lib., AL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292752337
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 155
  • Sales rank: 1,006,007
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Mendoza is the author of four books, including the highly acclaimed Stories and Ernie: A Photographer's Memoir. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he teaches photography at Ohio State University.
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Table of Contents

Preface xi
Acknowledgments xv
Introduction xvii
Section I The Interior Exile ("insilio") 1
Testimonio de un artista 3
Oh, La Habana 4
Manena's Cuban American Recipes 13
Life in Exile 13
The "Sandwich" Generation 20
The Thirteenth Suitcase 26
Sin calcetines 34
Beyond Fear 43
Dead Rafter II 47
Balsero Singing 48
Section II "Merely a Player" 51
Los que se alejan siempre son los ninos 53
Merely a Player 54
Portrait of Wendy, At Fifty, With Bra 58
The Wooden Suitcase 64
Once upon a Time in May of 1961 ... 66
Crossing into the Mainstream 67
Fragmented Memories 69
Going Back 78
Section III Crossing the Generational Divide 83
An Afternoon with Ernesto F. Betancourt 85
Growing Up Cuban American 92
My Life in Exile 98
Lost Memories and Nostalgic Obsessions 100
Thirty-Two Years Later 107
Island of Color 112
Life al reves 116
On Being Cuban 121
One Mother's Testimonial 124
Tia Ada's Arroz con leche 128
Losing Eden 128
Section IV Snapshots 133
La hora de los mameyes 135
Abui 137
A Cuban American Memoir 143
Song for the Royal Palms of Miami 146
Photograph of My Parents 148
First Shift at Hershey's, 4 A.M. 149
Inhabited Woman 151
Burialground 152
A Journal from the Bay of Mariel 153
Political Exile 165
Section V The Culture Wars 171
The Facts of Life on the Hyphen 173
Against the Grain: Writing Spanish in the USA 177
From "The Necessary Treasons" 179
Understanding del Casal 181
A Cubana in New York 187
Arroz 192
What Kind of Cuban Are You? 193
Tropical Flavor 195
Flags and Rags (On Golden Lake) 196
Next Stop Ninety Miles 202
Section VI "The Bite of Exile" 207
The Bite of Exile 209
Autobiography 210
Culture and Exile 211
The Wages of Exile 214
Foreigner's Notebook 223
In the Wilderness 225
Living on Borrowed Ground 225
Clotheslines 226
Letter to His Niece 228
exilio 230
sombras 231
Paradox 232
Where Are You From? A Cuban Dilemma 233
The Chosen 235
Even Names Have Their Exile 236
The Photo That Watches 238
Section VII "Grace under Pressure" 243
Cubans in the U.S. 245
Exile: Reality or Imagination 248
Entre el gato y la casa 249
Musicians in Motion 252
From "Celia Cruz" 253
From "La magia musical de Cachao" 255
Yesterday/Ayer 257
El descanso del heroe 258
Head and Vessel 259
From Outside Cuba/Fuera de Cuba 260
Historia rota (Broken History) 260
Exilio 262
Abode 265
Lluvia y primaveras 267
Autobiography, Historiography, and Mythography in Matias Montes Huidobro's Desterrados al fuego 269
Section VIII "Inheriting Exile" 277
On Being an American-Born Cuban from Miami 279
From "Stories My Mother Never Told Me" 284
ABCs in South Florida Suburbia 289
Appropriated Memories 299
Inheriting Exile 306
Un Testimonio 309
The Grand Finale 312
Memoirs of a Tampena 313
Una cubanita pasada por agua 317
Cata's "pie" de guayaba 320
Select Bibliography 321
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2000

    The ONE Book on Cuba to Read

    This is a lovely, evocative book. It captures the paradox of modern Cuba. Lovely, yet decaying. People who are generous but struggling to survive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 1999

    Self interview by the author.

    I went to Cuba, where I was born, to satisfy a powerful desire to see Cuba, the physical place, again. Once I was there I was surprised by what I heard, in daily conversations with Cubans in the streets, in private apartments, at the paladars. I started taking notes and recording conversations. I took pictures, which in the book are used to amplify the text. I became interested in how people related to the government, to socialism, and how they solved the problems of daily life. I'm hoping the book raises as many questions as it answers, and that it contributes to intensify questions about the embargo.

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