Cuban-American literature is based on the frustrations created by the political relationship between the United States and Cuba, the emergence of Spanglish, a half-and-half combination of the two countries' languages, and the modernization of Cuban society. Cuban foods, music, folklore, religion, and family ties also play important roles in bringing a boisterous, rhythmic attitude into representative writings. This book attempts to collect the most important and influential pieces by authors of a new literary genre. There are more than one hundred pages devoted to poetry. Recurring themes running through these selections include racism, poverty, and the encroachment of American culture. Some recount fond remembrances or embrace the folk superstitions of Cuba. The fiction collection includes short works by the established and well known, e.g., Hijuelos and Yglesias, and more recent authors, many who write of their exile or parents' exile from their homeland. A couple of the stories use strong language. One describes the acts of a sexual predator. Most, however, are short works, easily accessible even to reluctant readers. Three dramas are reprinted in the anthology. Each would be appropriate for production or dramatic reading in a classroom. Some include Spanish characters and dialogue. The poetry selections would be most useful to students seeking ethnic writings. The book closes with brief biographies and bibliographic information on the represented authors. I would recommend this anthology for the uniqueness of the genre. Pineapple Press has recently published a similar work, A Century of Cuban Writers in Florida, that also exhibits prose and poetry of the best Cuban/American authors. Libraries that cater to Latin audiences may wish to get both. Biblio. Further Reading. VOYA Codes: 4Q 2P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Suarez (Going Under, Arte Pblico, 1996) and wife Poey, editor of Out of the Mirrored Garden (LJ 12/95), compile poems by 15 poets, 12 short stories, three plays, and four essays representing the best of recent Cuban American writing. Except for Oscar Hijuelos (represented here by a short story, "Cuba Cuba 1954"), none of the contributors is a household name. Highlights include Gean Moreno's poem "Stand" ("Finding/ souvenirs of dead loves has more/ to do with probability than accident"), Prez Firmat's sardonic essay "Lost in Translation," and Dolores Prida's bilingual tour de force drama, "Coser y Cantar." Although about half of the works have appeared in volumes already published, this anthology pulls a wide variety together conveniently in one place.Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, Ohio