Thursday, July 16, 2015


Cubanabooks is a small independent press devoted to bringing first-class literature from Cuban women to a United States audience as well as to a global English and Spanish-speaking public. Publishing select literary gems in English or in bilingual English/Spanish volumes, Cubanabooks aims to correct the current U.S. unavailability of excellent literature from Cubans living in Cuba. Cubanabooks prioritizes the dissemination of works by living female writers who reside on the island.


Selected titles from Cubanabooks:

The Bleeding Wound / Sangra por la herida 
by Mirta Yáñez, Trans. Sara E. Cooper

  Tones of disillusionment and wistful longing permeate this novel about the passage of time, the city of Havana, and death. Within its complex structure, a concert of diverse voices narrates the compelling sagas of a generation of Cubans who embraced the 1959 socialist revolution in their adolescence, as well as today's twenty-somethings who inherited its boons and its banes. The common question asked throughout the novel is two-fold: where are we now? how did we get here? The novel is a palimpsest: diverse layers of personal narratives overlay the story of Havana, one that she can't tell for herself. Readers will delve into the complicated actuality of Cuba as it is today, an island nation cherished by its inhabitants despite the harsh quotidian existence that it offers. The wound is bleeding, Havana is dying, and readers will want to know the answer to the questions posed in Yez's novel, questions as universal as they are intrinsically Cuban: Who are we? Why are we here? And what will become of us?

An Address in Havana/Domicilio habanero: Selected Short Storie
by María Elena Llana, Trans. Barbara Riess

Llana has always been committed to a mixture of fantasy, dark humor, what could be called gothic comedy. Her stories humorously represent a vision of the world through a palpable irony leading up to a subversive guffaw that, because of her scathing wit, may also be read as an anguished holler. This quality is at the heart of Llana's stories teeming with specters of every type, dramatic or ridiculous, but always efficiently suggestive of circumstances underlying what we take for reality.
Her short stories contain a rich and thoroughly entertaining representation of a particular social class in Cuba during the last forty years: the bourgeoisie who struggled to maintain their social status and participated only by default in the construction of the new socialist society. Portraits of family and twisted gender roles abound, within a mysterious and uncanny domestic sphere that is unmistakably set in Havana.

The Memory of Silence / Memoria del silencio
by Uva de Aragón , Trans. Jeffrey C. Barnett

The Memory of Silence is de Aragón's first major novel, but it is by no means her first major literary contribution. Since her first publication in 1972, she has penned numerous works in the genres of short story, poetry, and critical essay. Her works have been published by equally diverse presses in Spain, the United States, and Cuba. Likewise, her translated fiction has appeared in well-known anthologies, including "Not the Truth, Not A Lie" in Ann Louise Bardach's Cuba and "Round Trip" in Peter Bush's The Voice of the Turtle, among others. Professor, poet, journalist, critic, and artist, de Aragón has spoken on Cuban themes through a wide range of media, but it is in The Memory of Silence where she has found her most resonating voice.
The Memory of Silence explores the lives of two sisters separated at the outset of the Cuban Revolution. In 1959, at the age of 18, the twin sisters Lauri and Menchu share a common past, but their lives abruptly take on seemingly irreconcilable differences as Lauri leaves with her groom for Miami and Menchu remains in Havana. For the next forty years, both lead distinct lives in terms of their daily concrete realities yet, often unknowingly, they share common milestones, attitudes, values, and intimate secrets. The reader is witness to the challenges of their lives through the memoirs that both sisters have kept. The text, then, becomes a series of interpolated chronicles, as each alternating chapter recounts one sister's life and then the other until finally in the present, now reunited, the sisters must confront the pain of the past and as well as the promise of the future.
De Aragón's novel stands apart in many respects. First and foremost, the underlying theme of reconciliation is a refreshing message and, most importantly, a timely one. As a sophistical story that intertwines two simultaneous histories, Memory serves as a cultural and historical window into a formative era that has defined in many ways both the United States and Cuba. For the reader of English who seeks to understand more fully how we arrived at this moment, The Memory of Silence offers a unique and convincing voice about a life left behind and life forged ahead.
While it is true that the novel most forcibly speaks to those interested exclusively in Cuban matters, its English translation, in my opinion, will transcend that scope and also be of interest to students of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Women and Gender Studies, literature in translation, and Diaspora studies among others.
—Jeffrey C. Barnett

Always Rebellious: Selected Poetry by Georgina Herrera / 
Cimarroneando: Poemas Escogidos de Georgina Herrera

Of African descent, Georgina Herrera (April 23, 1936–) was born in Jovellanos, the capital of Matanzas, to a family with great pride in its racial pedigree. From an uneducated background, she was brought up in an environment lacking in basic material resources, let alone books. This home was controlled by a repressive patriarchal hand with rules of obedience that discouraged thinking, and therefore, by extension, incomprehensive of this daughter’s rebellious spirited and poetic inclination. In any case, Georgina never considered submission a viable alternative. Authoritarian parenting could not contain her creative genius nor tame her independent spirit. It prompted within her a contrarian reaction, fanning an irrepressible cimarron rebelliousness that would lead the poet to express an overflowing creativity. 
Eliseo Diego calls Herrera's work poetry of origin, pain, heartbreak, and consolation. With a lyrical voice, the poet uncovers her most intimate self, with her loves, her fears, her pains and her orphanhood. In a process of sublimation, Herrera manages to transform her pain into central aesthetic components of her work, which point to the legacy of sorrow and sacrifice inherited from the 16th century.
Though she indeed has suffered, Georgina Herrera possesses courage, energy, and a penetrating intelligence accompanied by a profound sense of dignity and an age-old wisdom that enable her to "take to the hills" and run away in order to go on and tell us of both "the truths" of her cultural memory and those of her mind, of her soul, and of her vast experience accumulated in 75 years full of anxiety, exclusion, violence, and discrimination.
With a terse but disquieting voice, Georgina Herrera assumes the power of the written word, which, as she has expressed before, embodies all at once the "contrast of light and shade," of dream and truth, of fire and water. At the end, her self-definition is intimately related to validation of dignity and empowerment. It challenges the representation imposed upon the black woman, replacing it with positive images and becoming a dynamic source of power.
"Georgina Herrera continues in our midst as on of the deepest roots of feminine lyrical creation in Cuba. Her poetry of origin, pain, heartbreak, and consolation, like that of Avellaneda and Luisa Pérez de Zambrana in the previous century, is the center of this chapter—perhaps too full of tenderness—that rises out of the literary panorama as a beautiful enigma."
Eliseo Alberto Diego
Havana, Cuba Internacional, December 1974

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