This last generation of Cubans raised under Fidel Castro animate life in a waning era of political stagnation as the rest of the world beckons: waiting out storms at rummy hurricane parties and attending raucous drag cabarets, planning ascendant music careers and black-market business ventures, trying to reconcile the undefined future with the urgent today.
Eye-opening and politically prescient, "The Other Side of Paradise" offers a deep new understanding of a place that has so confounded and intrigued us."
- ISBN-13: 9781580055314
- ISBN-10: 1580055311
- Publisher: Seal Press (CA)
- Publish Date: April 2014
- Page Count: 236
- Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.55 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-02-17
- Reviewer: Staff
As journalist Cooke writes in her nonfiction debut, a multilayered collection of vignettes about her time in Cuba: “Havana reveals itself in snippets that build, one atop another, in a constant waterfall of places and scenes.” Bypassing many of the clichéd Cuban experiences, Cooke focuses on the day-to-day lives of Cuba’s young people—a population that, in recent years, has been leaving the country in droves. She quickly discovers that blackouts and service interruptions are as common as raucous street parties, that a box of Canadian corn flakes sells for $12, and that it’s possible to score five mojitos for a dollar, all while learning about the country’s dramatic history. It’s not all gloom and doom: Cuba now has a vibrant gay community, and punk rockers gleefully mix their metaphors. Cooke tries admirably to cover a subject that only seems to expand as she digs deeper, examining Santería, and the ever-present specter of government surveillance and Communism. Unfortunately, the more she digs, the more Cooke finds herself trying to nail down mercury as she shifts from subject to subject, never reaching a definitive conclusion or analysis. As a travelogue, the book is a fine example of the author’s experiences. As an analysis of an incredibly complex and ever-changing culture, it falls short. Agent: Diana Finch, Diana Finch Literary Agency. (Apr.)