Havana Real: One Woman Fights to Tell the Truth about Cuba Today

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Overview

Yoani Sánchez is an unusual dissident: no street protests, no attacks on big politicos, no calls for revolution. Rather, she produces a simple diary about what it means to live under the Castro regime in Cuba: the difficulty of shopping and chronic hunger; the art of repairing ancient appliances; the struggle for real news and the burdens of reading the party newspaper; the fear of admission to hospitals that lack the supplies for basic sterilization; and a life structured by a propaganda machine that pushes deep into the media, the public square, and the schools. Each sensitive dispatch is a brutal and honest depiction of Cuban life today.
For these simple acts of truth telling—which are published online at Generation Y, and collected here in English for the first time—Sanchez is treated as a domestic radical: she is summoned by the police; her friends are threatened; she was recently kidnapped and beaten. The state newspaper has gone so far to call her "a spy in the pay of capitalism."
Her ultimate concern, however, is for her friends in prison, and for the many who have fled, and for all those who have ceased to believe in the future of Cuba. Here the situation is elegantly expressed from the perspective of important and compelling new voice, one that has already found a worldwide audience online.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Havana Real

"An important new voice, both literary and political."
Larry Rohter, New York Times

"Perhaps the greatest hope for Cuba exists in the simple fact that Sanchez, a seriously disillusioned child of the revolution, chooses to stay there and pressure for change from within, while so many others choose to flee."
Miriam Zoila Perez, Ms. Magazine

"With her vivid portraits of family and friends, including Cuba’s determined dissidents, Yoani Sanchez dissolves the abstractions used to fuse individuals into generic masses. Little wonder that state media have labeled her and her friends 'cyber commandos.'"
Mary Speck, Washington Post

"Raw journalism at its best...Enlightening, engaging and brave, this is a must-read for anyone with an interest in Cuba--or for anyone who nurses romantic notions about this tiny, brutal communist state."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Other books offer a glance at Cuba still under a Castro, but none can compare with this remarkable diary of a life most can only imagine... unequivocally highly recommended not just just for all who are interested in Cuba today, but for fans of memoir, non-U.S. women's perspectives, and all who are concerned with human rights."
Library Journal

"A heckuva writer... A sharp-edged snapshot of life in Cuba."  
Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald

Praise for Yoani Sánchez

“Under the nose of a regime that has never tolerated dissent, Sánchez has practiced what paper-bound journalists in her country cannot: freedom of speech. . .”
—Time

“Ms. Sánchez paints an unflinching, and deeply personal, portrait of the Cuban experience.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Filled with personal observations and sardonic social commentary . . . [Sánchez’s] bleak poetry does not focus overtly on politics, but instead conveys the texture of daily life in a crumbling totalitarian system.”
—The New York Times

“[Sánchez] provides the world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba . . . empower[ing] fellow Cubans to express themselves through the use of technology.”
—Barack Obama

“What has probably unnerved the regime is not so much her attacks on the Castro brothers as her vivid description of daily life. . . . Where does this woman get her courage?”
—The Washington Post

"She has used technology to promote positive change. She has created an interactive space for the exchange of ideas and free expression. She has given voice to the concerns and aspirations of her fellow citizens…. And so her words, despite her government’s best efforts, are being translated into other languages, are being picked up and spread around because freedom knows no boundaries. And she deserves our thanks for demonstrating that again and again."
Hillary Clinton

Library Journal
Sánchez is a Cuban who walks the walk—currently residing in Havana, she defies the nation's leadership with her acclaimed blog, Generación Y, about life in Havana and around Cuba. This book represents four years' worth of entries she has struggled to post online in a country mostly devoid of Internet access. She was named one of Time magazine's most influential people of 2008, among many other international citations. Her insights collected here reveal daily life in Cuba, a life focused on waiting—for food, electricity, medical care, and freedom. Most telling is one post from 2010 when word spreads that Krazy Glue, vital for fixing things, is again available in one of Havana's shops; yet it cannot fix the daily lives of Cubans so used to dealing with shortages, empty stores, and empty promises. VERDICT Other books offer a glance at Cuba still under a Castro, but none can compare with this remarkable diary of a life most can only imagine. Although her blog has been available online translated into several languages, including English, for some years, this cumulative collection is unequivocally highly recommended not just for all who are interested in Cuba today, but for fans of memoir, non-U.S. women's perspectives, and all who are concerned with human rights.—Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., AL
Mary Speck
With her vivid portraits of family and friends, including Cuba’s determined dissidents, Yoani Sanchez dissolves the abstractions used to fuse individuals into generic masses. Little wonder that state media have labeled her and her friends "cyber commandos."
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

In 2004, Sanchez returned to native country Cuba from Switzerland and made herself a promise: "to live in Cuba as a free person, and accept the consequences." She started Generation Y, a blog chronicling the island's "collective asphyxiation." Collected and translated here for the first time, Sanchez's award-winning blog is an example of raw journalism at its best, poignantly documenting country in which everything is scarce, from meat to Krazy Glue ("People are shouting from balcony to balcony...they have Krazy Glue at the little shop"); a country in which everything is broken, from the education system to her crumbling apartment. But the wry humor she uses to cope with the lack of basic necessities is shockingly undercut when the Ministry of the Interior puts her under intense surveillance: "I feel a terror that almost doesn't let me type." Ultimately, she is kidnapped, beaten severely, and dumped in the street: "I am thinking about my son Teo... How am I going to tell him that we live in a country where this can happen? ... where his mother has been beaten up on a public street for writing a blog?" Enlightening, engaging and brave, this is a must-read for anyone with an interest in Cuba-or for anyone who nurses romantic notions about this tiny, brutal communist state.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935554257
  • Publisher: Melville House Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 502,817
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Yoani Sanchez, a University of Havana graduate in philology, emigrated to Switzerland in 2002. Two years later, she decided to return to Cuba, but promised herself she would live there as a free person and started her blog, Generation Y, upon her return. In 2008, Time Magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World; it named Generation Y one of the Best Blogs of 2009. Spain honored her with its highest award for digital journalism, the Ortega y Gasset Prize. She lives with her husband, independent journalist Reinaldo Escobar, and their son in a high-rise apartment in Havana, overlooking Revolution Square.

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