Dreaming in Cuban

Dreaming in Cuban

4.1 47
by Cristina García

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"Remarkable...An intricate weaving of dramatic events with the supernatural and the cosmic...Evocative and lush...A rich and haunting narrative, an excellent new voice in contemporary fiction."SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLENow available in a Spanish language edition from Ballantine Books.Here is the dreamy and bittersweet story of a family divided by politics and

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"Remarkable...An intricate weaving of dramatic events with the supernatural and the cosmic...Evocative and lush...A rich and haunting narrative, an excellent new voice in contemporary fiction."SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLENow available in a Spanish language edition from Ballantine Books.Here is the dreamy and bittersweet story of a family divided by politics and geography by the Cuban revolution. It is the family story of Celia del Pino, and her husband, daughter and grandchildren, from the mid-1930s to 1980. Celia's story mirrors the magical realism of Cuba itself, a country of beauty and poverty, idealism and corruption. DREAMING IN CUBAN presents a unique vision and a haunting lamentation for a past that might have been.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Garcia's first novel is about Cuba, her native country, and three generations of del Pino women who are seeking spiritual homes for their passionate, often troubled souls. Celia del Pino and her descendants also share clairvoyant and visionary powers that somehow remain undiminished, despite the Cuban revolution and its profound effect upon their lives. This dichotomy suffuses their lives with a potent mixture of superstition, politics, and surrealistic charm that gives the novel an otherworldly atmosphere. Garcia juggles these opposing life forces like a skilled magician accustomed to tossing into the air fiery objects that would explode if they came into contact. Writing experimentally in a variety of forms, she combines narratives, love letters, and monologs to portray the del Pinos as they move back and forth through time. Garcia tells their story with an economy of words and a rich, tropical imagery, setting a brisk but comfortable pace. Highly recommended.-- Janet W. Reit, Univ. of Vermont Lib., Burlington
From the Publisher
“Dazzling . . . Remarkable.”
The New York Times

Dreaming in Cuban is beautifully written in language that is by turns languid and sensual, curt and surprising. Like Louise Erdrich, whose crystalline language is distilled of images new to our American literature but old to this land, Ms. García has distilled a new tongue from scraps salvaged through upheaval. . . . It is [the] ordinary magic in Ms. García’s novel and her characters’ sense of their own lyricism that make her work welcome as the latest sign that American literature has its own hybrid offspring of the Latin American school.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Poignant and perceptive . . . It tells of a family divided politically and geographically by the Cuban revolution . . . [and] of the generational fissures that open on each side: In Cuba, between a grandmother who is a fervent Castro supporter and a daughter who retreats into an Afro-Cuban santeria cult; in America, between another daughter, who mocks her obsession . . . The realism is exquisite.”
Los Angeles Times

“Remarkable . . . A rich and haunting narrative . . . An intricate weaving of dramatic events with the supernatural and the cosmic . . . Evocative and lush.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Impressive . . . Her story is about three generations of Cuban women and their separate responses to the revolution. Her special feat is to tell it in a style as warm and gentle as the ‘sustaining aromas of vanilla and almond,’ as rhythmic as the music of Beny Moré.”

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Random House Publishing Group
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Dreaming in Cuban 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I noticed most reviews are from possibly Cuban American readers or students of Latin American literature classes. I found this book after my first cruise which was to the Caribbean. I decided to read translations of Caribbean authors. This is a wonderful book. I agree particularly with the reviewer who mentions how fantasy is a coping mechanism for these characters. This book is bizarre because so much of the time it is the constantly ticking internal dialogues of people. This book increased immensely my understanding of the Cuban American plight and opened up the closed world of those left behind.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for the first time at the age of 15. Since, I have read it over and over again....this recount of generations of immigrant women is not what you expect. The story turns into a magical and at times erotic recount of 3 generations of women. It is enchanting and mysterious and at times causes one to ignore what we know to be true about reality...
Guest More than 1 year ago
With Castro so much in the news lately, it's no wonder this book has taken off--again! And don't think for a minute that it's just a 'chick' book---it's not. It's funny, warm, intelligent, and a great way to spend some time with a writer from whom I hope we'll hear more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved this book so much it tells about women and what they go through it's like a book recommended for all the women on earth
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book with out knowing anything about it, and by the time I finished it, I was captivated by the author's writing skill! This is the type of book you just can't put down! I have told all of my friends about it, and I have re-read it about four times. This book was great from start to finish, the characters were totally believable. I felt as if the author could have been spying on my family when she wrote this. I can't give this book enough praise, just go out and read it already!
Anonymous 11 months ago
Great book! Fast read . Garcia captures you in the world of Cuba so poetically . This is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia This is a novel that tells the story of three generations of Cubans. Celia Almeida the matriarch who fell in love with a married Spanish lawyer (Gustavo Sierra de Armas) but had to settle for Jorge del Pino. Because of this, Jorge punishes her by leaving her alone while on business as a traveling salesman and distancing her children from her. Celia and Jorge have three children: Lourdes marries a rich man from the Cuba's high society, Rufino Puente and chooses to leave Cuba for Brooklyn where she opens the Yankee Doodle Bakery in Brooklyn, and thrives on American life, quickly embracing cold weather, capitalism, and prejudice. Her husband feels impotent because he was a rancher and liked to work outdoor Lourdes keeps a strong tie to her father - who died in Brooklyn from stomach cancer - and is frequented by his spirit. Jorge del Pino spirit assesses Lourdes on all the important decisions she makes. Felicia marries the good for nothing Hugo Villaverde, who gives her syphilis with her second pregnancy and is kicked out by Jorge del Pino from the family. Felicia decides to stay in Cuba and has an affinity for santeria. She killed the last of her three husbands and tried to burn the first one alive. She also burnt Graciela Moreira's hair because she though she was responsible for the death of her second husband: Ernesto Brito. Javier escapes to Czechoslovakia where he becomes a professor at the Prague University. He marries Irina Novotny with whom he fathers a girl, Irinita. Irina leaves him for another intellectual so he returns to Cuba in defeat. The third generation of protagonists are made up of their children: Pilar Puente - the most important of these, is Lourdes and Rufino's daughter. She's a rebel with a cause. While her mother is a right wing Cuban exile who hates anything that has to do with Castro, Pilar has a strong connection with her grandmother Celia. Celia speaks to her for most of her early life. Pilar is an artist, a free spirit and longs to go back and stay in Cuba. She remembers being torn away from her grandmother's arms when Lourdes decided to leave for the US. Feels she belongs there. Luz and Milagro Villaverde - Felicia's daughters - hate her mother. They side with their father and try in vain to rescue their brother Ivanito from her crazy mother who ends up trying to burn him alive. Ivanito is very close to her mother and even though he excels in Russian, he's trying to learn English. He goes to his grandmother's house in Santa Teresa del Mar to try to listen to American radio. He's painted like a mama's boy and the writer is ambiguous about his relationship with his Russian teacher, Sergei Mikoyan, who has to leave Cuba because of improprieties with his students. The techniques used by the writer are interesting. The book takes place from 1972 to 1980. The book is narrated from the third person point of view, but it switches to the first person point of view every time Pilar does the storytelling. Perhaps the writer was identifying with Pilar. I thought it was nice until Ivanito and Herminia Delgado - Felicia's closest friend - also narrate from the first person point of view. I did not understand this. The writer uses letters sent from Celia to Gustavo to fill in the gaps of the story. The most poetic words are in the letters. "I was born to live in an island" writes Celia to Gustavo. "I'm grateful that the tides rearrange the borders. At least I have the illusion of change, of possibility. To be locked within boundaries plotted by priests and politicians would be the only thing more intolerable." Celia complains of a loneliness "borne of the inability to share her joy." The book is an interesting study of the Cuban dynamics touching on the topics of Santeria, racism, and the Cuban revolution. The writer takes steps to present all the different points of views: Cubans in Cuba who love the revolution, Cubans in Cuba who need to be "reprogrammed" because they oppose the revolution. The poverty and decay in Cuba. It also shows the Cubans in the US - The ones who missed Cuba, like Pilar, and the ones who are radical against Castro. Lourdes has meetings on her bakery and her friends boast that they called a bomb threat to the Lincoln Center when Alicia Alonso came to perform with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, because Ms. Alonso was a Castro supporter. I think the santeria and spiritualism is used as a way to stay in touch. Generations communicate in the afterlife - Jorge and Lourdes - and through space - Celia and Pilar. Ms. Garcia states that santeria is an unacknowledged and under appreciated aspect of what it means to be Cuban. The racism is showcased in the relationship between Herminia and Felicia. Herminia, being of African descent, is aware that Felicia is the only person who doesn't see color. She also speaks of the Little War of 1912 when many of her relatives were killed for being black. The book's ending is ambiguous. I think it's because Ms. Garcia is still trying to figure out where she belongs. The book also lacks sufficient freshness of insight to be consistently compelling. It left me with a sense that the questions asked were never answered.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author does a stellar job with her use of descriptive words and bringing you into the story. Her beautiful writing has a musical, colorful feel....lot of blue. If you enjoy family generational literature, historical fiction, women's literature, then you must read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book nearly two years ago, but I still think of it from time to time. It focuses on a Cuban family that has been divided (one half has moved to America while the other remains in Cuba). The viewpoint of several different characters is shown as they take over a chapter or two. It offers an interesting philosophy and story, and I would recommend this novel to any older teen or young adult.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Melina Jimenez More than 1 year ago
this book transports the reader to Cuba and all of its wonders of yesteryear. it is beautifully written. i highly recomend reading it and a book by Dede Mirabal re: las hermanas mirabal 'vivas en su jardin'
NancyChase More than 1 year ago
I found Dreaming in Cuban to be a cumbersome effort to read. Almost from the start I was beginning to lose track of the characters and I was beginning to think that I would need a score card to keep track of who was who. In this novel the author did create interesting scenes that centers around the Cuban family, and culture but there were so many loose ends when I finished reading the book that the overall story just didn't connect with me. It's not a terrible read, maybe just an entertaining story.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I got interested in this book because in my history class we were learnig about Fidel's Cuba. This book has showed me how people from Cuba feel about Cuba and what they do in Cuba.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book for a multicultural women's literature class and I have to say it is now one of my favorites. The way that Garcia weaves her story is simply amazing. The different relationships in this novel are great, you really feel like you are a part of the del Pino family while reading. Garcia makes you really feel the characters you are reading about. I couldn't put this book down, I love it and recommend it to everyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dreaming in Cuban is a story about three generations of Cuban women and their extreme differences. Celia, the grandmother, remains in Cuba and is a dedicated Castro supporter. Her daughter Lourdes had moved to the United States and is caompletely anti-Castro. Pilar, the granddaughter, is an artist with a punk style who thinks that her mothers obsession with the anti-Castro movement is ridiculous. They each have a different perception of what Cuba should be. It's a great story about the Cuban revolution and the effect it has had on families.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Dreaming in Cuban¿ by Cristina Garcia Book Review by Kelly Mendoza ¿Dreaming in Cuban¿ by Cristina Garcia was a phenomenally entertaining yet complicated reading. Once I started reading I could not put the book down. The characters are so realistic. Celia is a strong Fidel Castro follower and the mother of three children Javier, Felicia and Lourdes and grandmother of Pilar (daughter of Lourdes). Celia had been in love with an attorney. For many years she would write obsessive letters giving insight into her daily going-ons. She then married Jorge, but continued with her neurotics focusing her attention on what she could do in support of the communist government. Her daughter Lourdes fled to New York with her husband and daughter Pilar and went on to open a bakery. Lourdes strives on the idea of the ¿American Dream¿. Felicia on the other hand stayed in Cuba turning to the Santeria religion to pull her out of her depression/psychosis. Felicia, by far, was the most unstable character. She set her husband on fire along with numerous other hilarious antics. Pilar is as Americanized as they come. Although she was born in Cuba, she is nothing less than a first generation American rebellious teen punk with constant criticism of her mother. After a religious experience, Pilar convinces her mother to take a trip to Cuba for a family reunion. I enjoyed this book most of all because I can relate to the characters. My family came to the United States from Cuba over thirty years ago. I liked the way the book covers three generations of women from the same family giving insight into each of their motivations, sacrifices, and decisions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia links the lives of three generations of Cuban women: the grandmother, her two daughters, and the granddaughter. Each character escapes reality by some form of fantasy: the grandmother devotes herself to communism, one daughter to Santeria, the other to a bakery in New York, and the granddaughter to punk painting. The book has a great illustration of the Cuban religion: Santeria, using it to show the revolution of the Cuban communism. I highly recommend this book it is a great way to get a truthful knowledge of the Cuban life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recommend this book because, is an excellent story full of vivid imagery, which delves into complicated family dynamics and cultural identity. ¿Dreaming in Cuban¿ tells the story of the Cuban Revolution from the point of view of three generations of women. In this book there is violence, murder, passion, birth and death, but all told in a sort of lyrical and mystical way. I really enjoyed reading this book and I think it is a good novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Three generations and four women dominate this story of a bewitched family. The setting for Cristina Garcia's first novel is Cuba and New York, where she was born and raised. Celia del Pino is the protagonist, a loyal follower of 'El Lider'. Thru her love letters to an old Spanish lover we find out much about the family. Her oldest daughter, Lourdes, is a fervent anti-communist, who immigrated to Brooklyn and realized the American dream of owning her own business. She is a traumatized rape victim, who feels her ony ally is her father. Thru magical realism she spends several years in conversation with him after he died. Only after he fades away can she finally pay a visit to her aging and dying mother in Cuba. Her daughter, Pilar, was born in Cuba the very year Castro took over. Raised in Brooklyn, punk artist and musician, yet longs for Cuba and her grandmother, who she maintains in psychic contact with. Felicia, the youngest daughter, remained in Cuba, even though she is apolitical. She suffers from bouts of insanity, is divorced, and has three dysfunctional children. Felicia's interest in Santeria, a Voodoo-type religion, gives us the opportuity to learn about it in a colorful and vivid fashion. The author uses an interesting twist of words that keep the reader amused, though melancholic and confused at times. The characterization is superb. Each character demands your attention and their complex relationship makes for good reading
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dreaming in Cuban by Christina Garcia is an intriguing look into a family torn by Fidel Castro's political hold on Cuba. Taking place in both Cuba and the United States the story explores political, geographical, religious, and generational divides among family members. Readers will meet Celia del Pino the matriarch of the family and ever loyal to Castro. Celia's daughter Lourdes living in New York staunchly opposes Castro and has little more warmth for her mother. Pilar, the artistic rebel and third generation, feels a connection to her grandmother and a life she remembers. Readers will travel with the family members dealing with insanity, religious curiosities and even attempted murder/suicide. Garcia's book is definitely worth reading as she is able to capture many of the issues Cuban families experience in this compelling novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Dreaming in Cuban¿ is one of those books that are excessively fun to read. The book tells the story of three parts of one family. This family is divided by their own make-shifted beliefs of what is wrong and what isn¿t. Cristina Garcia¿s style of writing drags the reader to understand what a Cuban family feels. How it is to live in a family that are drawn by their beliefs to go forward and not look back. Three different women reacting differently to the revolution is what Garcia successfully explains. That along with how and why they chose the paths they took and the outcome to their decisions. Wonderfully written giving a unique perspective on what happened in the revolution.