Cuba Beyond the Beach: Stories of Life in Havana

Karen Dubinsky. Between the Lines (Brunswick Books, dist.), $24.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-77113-269-5
Dubinsky, a Canadian professor of history at Queen’s University and coauthor of My Havana: The Musical City of Carlos Varela, gives readers a balanced and clear-eyed portrait of everyday life for citizens in the Cuban capital. She examines the effects of Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, the U.S. blockade, and recent developments such as the economic reforms introduced by Raúl Castro in 2010 and the 2014 normalization of relations with the U.S. Dubinsky lived in Havana for extended periods, and writes knowledgeably about problems Cubans face, including long queues at shops, shortages of food, and the lack of safe, affordable housing. She also introduces readers to the cultural richness of Havana’s neighborhoods and resources such as the Cuban Art Factory, a combined art gallery, performance space, dance club, theater, and art market. She devotes a chapter to Cuban music, praising Carlos Varela as both a singer and a historian: “Good musicians can be great historians because they take us places that only the poets can go.” This is an intimate portrait of Havana, enriched by Dubinsky’s personal anecdotes and stories of her Cuban friends. It chronicles the resourcefulness and resilience of the Cuban people and will appeal broadly to anyone traveling to Cuba or readers who just want to be transported there. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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