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Cubanismo!: An Anthology of Contemporary Cuban Literature

Overview

¡Cubanísimo! is the first book to gather Cuban stories, essays, poems and novel excerpts in one volume that summarizes the richness and depth of a great national literature. From the turn of the century to the present, from Havana to Miami, New York, Mexico City, Madrid and beyond, the spirit and diversity of Cuban cultureconverge in one vibrant literary jam session. Cristina García has ingeniously grouped her selections according to “the music of their sentences” into five ...
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Overview

¡Cubanísimo! is the first book to gather Cuban stories, essays, poems and novel excerpts in one volume that summarizes the richness and depth of a great national literature. From the turn of the century to the present, from Havana to Miami, New York, Mexico City, Madrid and beyond, the spirit and diversity of Cuban cultureconverge in one vibrant literary jam session. Cristina García has ingeniously grouped her selections according to “the music of their sentences” into five sections named for Cuban dance styles.

¡Cubanísimo! begins with an elegant classical danzón section that includes poems and diaries from the father of Cuban literature, José Martí, and Antonio Benítez-Rojo’s hallucinatory story A View from the Mangrove. As it moves to more contemporary dances, the book offers, among other delights, the essay by Alejo Carpentier that was the first to define magical realism; the scandalously sensual eighth chapter from José Lezama Lima’s controversial 1966 novel Paradiso; Ana Menendez’s Little Havana-inspired story, In Cuba I was a German Shepherd; a passage from Reinaldo Arenas’s acclaimed memoir Before Night Falls and six witty musings—or mambos—on language from Gustavo Pérez Firmat’s Life on the Hyphen.

A brilliant introduction for readers who want to explore Cuban literature, as well as a collectible volume for those who love Cuba, ¡Cubanísimo! is a celebration of Cuban culture, from the island to its farthest flung voices.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
When most of us think of literary Cuba, Hemingway comes to mind first. This, however, should not be the case. With this anthology of contemporary Cuban literature, editor Garcia (Dreaming in Cuban) introduces American readers to an impressive array of Cuba's finest writers of stories, essays, poems, and novels. Garcia has arranged her selections according to "the music of their sentences," in sections called "Danzon," "Rumba," "Son," "Mambo," and "Salsa." Danzon, for instance, was very much turn-of-the-century music and is, according to Garcia, best reflected in the work of Jose Marti, the fallen hero of Cuba's independence movement and the father of Cuban modernist literature. Other noteworthy selections include Antonio Benitez-Rojo's short story "A View from the Mangrove"; a passage from Jose Lezama Lima's controversial 1966 novel, Paradiso; Nancy Morejon's Havana-inspired poem "Love, Attributed City"; and an address by Guillermo Cabrera Infante on Lorca's visit to Havana in 1930. In the helpful introduction, Garc a explains why she selected particular works for particular music categories and gives background on the authors for those unfamiliar with their work. This unique anthology-the first to gather the diversity of contemporary Cuban voices in one volume-should create a great interest among readers who want to acquaint themselves with the literary side of Cuba. Highly recommended for all literary collections.-Ron Ratliff, Kansas State Univ. Lib., Manhattan Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nicely varied selections from 25 authors are organized by Havana-born novelist Garc'a (Monkey Hunting, p. 332, etc.) into sections titled after various indigenous dances (e.g., "Rumba," "Mambo," "Salsa"). Token excerpts from the poetry and "War Diaries" of 19th-century revolutionary José Mart' are followed by material composed mostly since the 1959 Castro takeover. The poetry tends toward the florid or obscure (exceptions are Heberto Padilla's Borgesian "Self-Portrait of the Other" and Mar'a Elena Cruz Valera's witty "Love Story for Difficult Times"), and of the handful of nonfiction pieces, only an excerpt from Miguel Barnet's earthy, gripping Biography of a Runaway Slave seems distinctive. Selections from novels by Alejo Carpentier, José Lezama Lima, and exact contemporary José Manuel Prieto (author of the Nabokovian Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire) are noteworthy, and of eight short stories included, the standouts are Calvert Casey's gently humorous "The Walk" and journalist Ana Menéndez's seriocomic portrayal of political exiles withering away in Miami, "In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd." An illuminating and altogether worthy addition to an excellent series.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385721370
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/22/2003
  • Series: Vintage Original Series
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 842,184
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Cristina Garcia
Cristina García was born in Havana and grew up in New York City. Her first novel, Dreaming in Cuban, was nominated for a National Book Award and has been widely translated. Ms. García has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, and the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award. She lives in Los Angeles with her daughter.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
"Love in the City" 3
from War Diaries 5
"Tobacco and Sugar" from Cuban Counterpoint 11
A View from the Mangrove 33
The Hill of Mambiala 54
"Eternity" 67
"Certainty" 68
Prologue from The Kingdom of This World 75
Journey Back to the Source 81
"Life in the Woods" from Biography of a Runaway Slave 98
Lorca the Rainmaker Visits Havana 111
"I Heard Her Sing" from Three Trapped Tigers 124
"Love, Attributed City" 138
The Walk 140
Chapter VIII from Paradiso 157
"Self-portrait of the other" 188
"A prayer for the end of the century" 190
The Founders: Alfonso 192
As I Am ... As I Was 207
Josephine Baker in Cuba 219
The Face 227
Six Mambos from Life on the Hyphen: The Cuban-American Way 236
from From Cuba with a Song 245
from Before Night Falls 263
The Ivory Trader and the Red Melons 283
"The Bakery Administrator's Daughter": from The Lazarus Rumba 309
"Love Song for Difficult Times" 329
"The Exterminating Angel" 330
from Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire 332
In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd 343
"What the Body Told" 365
Notes about the Authors 367
A Personal Discography 373
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