Novels Margarita Engle Singing to Cuba

ISBN 13: 9781558850705

Singing to Cuba

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9781558850705: Singing to Cuba

This novel is written by a Cuban-American Los Angeles native.

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From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From 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
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Margarita Engle
Published by Arte Publico Press (1993)
ISBN 10: 1558850708 ISBN 13: 9781558850705
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