Dreaming in Cuban
"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 CHRONICLE
Now 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.
stamping, first as a group then individually across the floor. What a thunder we made! Mercedes singled me out—“A proud chest, yes! See how she carries herself? Perfecto! Así, así!” Mom watched me closely. I could read in her face that we wouldn’t return. The light refracts through the stained-glass windows into long fans of blue. Why do they always have to ruin places like this with religion? I think about the king-sized crucifix nailed to the front of my old principal’s desk. Christ’s wounds
world. In fact, Felicia can’t help feeling that there is something unnatural in her mother’s attraction to him, something sexual. She has heard of women offering themselves to El Líder, drawn by his power, by his unfathomable eyes, and it is said he has fathered many children on the island. But there is a coldness to El Líder, a bitterness she doesn’t trust. They say his first wife, his one great love, betrayed him while he was imprisoned on the Isle of Pines, after his ill-fated attack on the
reached Papi’s hotel. “I don’t think he’s home.” Milagro looked at me strangely but neither of us knew why. Ivanito began jumping nervously in place, jumping brisk little jumps like he was trying to stay warm. If it hadn’t been for the rain that fell hard and sudden, we wouldn’t have gone up those stairs. If we hadn’t been afraid of the dogs fighting in the alley, we might have taken Ivanito away. If we hadn’t seen the ships, big ones with curled Russian lettering, moored to the docks like
heads off goats with his teeth and fillet blue-eyed babies before dawn. I got into fights at school. The other children shunned me and called me bruja. They made fun of my hair, oiled and plaited in neat rows, and of my skin, black as my father’s. But Felicia defended me. I’ll always be grateful to her for that. Felicia was forbidden to visit my house but she did anyway. Once she saw my father use the obi, the divining coconut, to answer the questions of a godchild who had come to consult him. I
family. Every day, though, it was another story. The whiter you were, the better off you were. Anybody could see that. There’s more respect these days. I’ve been at the battery factory almost twenty years now, since right after the revolution, and I supervise forty-two women. It’s not much, maybe, but it’s better than mopping floors or taking care of another woman’s children instead of my own. One thing hasn’t changed: the men are still in charge. Fixing that is going to take a lot longer than