Singing to Cuba

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A journey into the past reveals the terrifying truth that destroyed a family. A California farm wife leaves her husband and children to search for the truth about family members caught up in the turmoil of the Castro revolution. She encounters much more than she expected, as her family's tragedy becomes her own personal drama, cast in a modern mystery play of good versus evil, angels versus demons. An account of the imprisonment of her great uncle Gabriel, once a Castro supporter, swept away by the so-called ...
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Overview

A journey into the past reveals the terrifying truth that destroyed a family. A California farm wife leaves her husband and children to search for the truth about family members caught up in the turmoil of the Castro revolution. She encounters much more than she expected, as her family's tragedy becomes her own personal drama, cast in a modern mystery play of good versus evil, angels versus demons. An account of the imprisonment of her great uncle Gabriel, once a Castro supporter, swept away by the so-called "Secret War" against the Cuban peasants early in the revolution, sets the mood for this lyrical novel told in the Latin American style of magical realism. The magic, but all too real paradox, is a Cuba where the splendor of natural beauty coexists with moral evil.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The narrator of this pleasantly rambling first novel is a Cuban-American poet raised in Harlem who returns to Cuba to visit relatives and to let them know that they are remembered by their family in exile. When a cousin, fearful of the Castro regime, requests that she not use his name in writing about the experience, she responds, ``I'm just a nature poet. I write very small, insignificant little things about trees and flowers, birds, insects, things like that.'' In fact, the novel deals with human nature: the ``Maximum Leader'' and his tyranny, the ways in which people adjust to shortages, and the nostalgia that the narrator feels for the summers she spent in Cuba as a girl. There is no plot per se, but it is a joy to travel along with Engle's narrator as she observes the way Cubans blow kisses to tourists who are virtually stealing food out of their mouths, and as her cousin explains how subversive songwriters find ways to encode anti-Castro lyrics, like the tune in which William Tell's son grows tired of holding an apple on his head. The title refers to ``Singers to Cuba,'' a group that travels around singing (forbidden) religious songs and asking for guidance from God. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Although technically a work of fiction, this volume by the author of Smoketree (High-Coo Pr., 1983) is based on her recent trip to Cuba to tell relatives they had not been forgotten. The result is a less subjective tale than one might ordinarily expect to find in a novel. Engle's stories about relatives, both living and dead, impart a lot of Cuban history; in the present day, she finds captive towns, ubiquitous informers, and severe shortages. Her choppy writing style, perhaps intentional, frequently gives the book a journalistic tone that makes it resemble a news bulletin. Sharp volleys between this style and passages dominated by poetic images (such as angels and demons struggling over possession of the island) can be quite jolting, but so can a country in which idealistic young singers try to uplift the people as human rights violations pull them down. Recommended for general readers.-- Susan M. Olcott, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558850705
  • Publisher: Arte Publico Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 164
  • Product dimensions: 5.39 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.47 (d)

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