cover image The Tribe: Portraits of Cuba

The Tribe: Portraits of Cuba

Carlos Manuel Álvarez, trans. from the Spanish by Frank Wynne with Rahul Bery. Graywolf, $17 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-1-64445-090-1

Novelist Álvarez (The Fallen) delivers an immersive depiction of life in modern Cuba. Highlights among the 19 essays include “Black Pitcher, White Socks,” an evocative account of MLB pitcher José Contreras’s visit home in 2013. Since 1959, Cuban athletes who pursued a professional career in a foreign league had been prohibited from returning home, and news of their accomplishments was censored in the Cuban press. Thanks to a new immigration policy enacted by Raúl Castro’s government, Contreras, who had joined the New York Yankees in 2002 after defecting from the Cuban national team, was the first pro athlete to return home, a joyful occasion tempered by his mother’s serious health issues. Elsewhere, Álvarez details how the restoration of diplomatic relations with the U.S. in 2014 forced Cubans “to reinvent our language, the words we commonly used, the concepts to which we had adapted ourselves as a nation,” and profiles Cuban refugees attempting the risky journey to the U.S. through Central America. Throughout, Álvarez conveys the Cuban landscape and its people with crystalline prose and captures the degradations of living under an authoritarian regime with precision. Readers will be riveted. (June)