Self-Portrait of the Other

Heberto Padilla, Author, Alexander Coleman, Translator Farrar Straus Giroux $19.95 (220p) ISBN 978-0-374-26086-6
``Where the paths of poetry and politics cross, there is little room for reconciliation,'' observes the author. Allowed to leave Cuba in 1981 following a decade in disfavor with the Castro regime, this distinguished Cuban poet offers a memoir of his experiences between 1959 and 1981, first within, then estranged from, the Cuban revolution and its ethos. Intellectuals alienated from the Castro government who have told their stories tend to sound spiteful and illiberal, like Cabrera Infante; Padilla takes pains to do better. His style is clear, sometimes witty, often bitter, persevering but not burdensome, and evincing an occasional affinity with both Orwell and Hemingway. The right will doubtless celebrate his description of the Cuban security apparatus and his negative assessment of Castro's intellectual and moral integrity, but the regime's sympathizers will find something constructive, if disturbing, in Padilla's meditations on Castro's failure to do more than assign artists and writers a sharply circumscribed PR mission. Padilla also is at home talking literary shop about writers such as Camus, Yevtushenko et al. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-374-52655-9
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