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Singing to Cuba (excerpt): 07/09/08
The next piece in Havana is an excerpt from the 1993 novel Singing to Cuba by Margarita Engle. The story is based on the author's own trip back to Cuba after years of trying to get permission to visit.
This excerpt follows the dark tone of "Cuban Sketches." Clearly this book seems aimed at ending on a critical note. The unnamed protagonist who is a stand-in for the author, is dismayed at how much things have decayed since the revolution. There is also discussion on the lack of choice: cheap state-run beer and plenty of ice cream but no regular sources of food. There are no supplies for repairing homes so the paint and plaster is peeling.
For many characters in the story the only way out is suicide and it is the talk of death that ends the excerpt. What this sudden change in the book's tone shows is just how volatile a subject Cuba still in here in the States. I wish though that the book had some discussion about the reasons behind the pieces chosen.
Here is the complete list of reviews from Havana: Tales of a City.