As the U.S. rekindles its relationship with Cuba, new books examine the country’s history and culture.

The reestablishment of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba has spurred renewed interest in the Caribbean island nation—and booksellers are taking notice.

Marcelo Rodriguez, manager and buyer at New York City’s Idlewild Books, which focuses on travel literature, says that books about Cuba have “been flying off the shelves. We almost can’t keep up with the demand.”

Shawn Donley, book purchasing supervisor at Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., has noticed a particular uptick among guidebooks. He explains that, though sales of a given guide normally dwindle with each passing year, the store has seen the opposite with Lonely Planet Cuba (2013): “We sold more copies this year”—so far, about 100, he says, “than the last two years combined.”

Lonely Planet will publish the 8th edition of its Cuba guide in November; Frommer’s, Berlitz, and Fodor’s are also updating Cuba guides for 2015, and other publishers have plans set for 2016 and 2017.

Here’s a look at a sampling of forthcoming Cuba-centric literature.


Havana Hardball

by César Brioso

(Univ. Press of Florida, Sept.)

Brioso, digital producer for USA Today Sports and its former baseball editor, shines a light on the pivotal year of 1947, when Major League Baseball sought to take control of the Cuban League, and the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson, on the cusp of breaking the color barrier, arrived on the island for spring training.

No God But Gain

by Stephen Chambers

(Verso, Sept.)

Historian and novelist Chambers examines the ways in which the slave trade in Spain’s American colonies—including Cuba—contributed to the growth of the United States, even after the Constitution outlawed the transatlantic slave trade in 1808.

Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise

by Oscar Hijuelos

(Grand Central, Nov.)

The final work by Hijuelos, who died in 2013, offers a fictionalized retelling of the friendship between Mark Twain and explorer Henry Morgan Stanley. In the novel, the pair travels to Cuba in search of Stanley’s adoptive father.

Letters to Yeyito

by Paquito D’Rivera, trans. from the Spanish by Rosario Moreno

(Restless, Nov.)

In addition to publishing this forthcoming memoir by Cuban jazz legend D’Rivera, indie press Restless has cornered the market on English-language translations of Cuban science fiction, with new titles already scheduled for publication in summer 2016 and 2017.

Between Here and Gone

by Barbara Ferrer

(Diversion, Jan. 2016)

In 1960s New York, a once-pampered Cuban woman, who fled her home country in 1959, takes a job writing the memoir of a troubled starlet, finding in her subject’s story a reflection of her own.

The Weeping Woman

by Zoé Valdés, trans. by Tim Baralis

(Skyhorse/Arcade, Feb. 2016)

Winner of Spain’s Azorín Prize in 2013, the fictional tale tracks the efforts of an author—who, like Valdés, was born in Cuba and lives in exile in France—to write a novel about a female surrealist artist whose relationship with Pablo Picasso led to her demise.

Cuba’s Baseball Defectors

by Peter C. Bjarkman

(Rowman & Littlefield, Apr. 2016)

Bjarkman, who has been studying Cuban baseball for nearly two decades, explores why the country excels in the sport and investigates the defector phenomenon.


Embracing Cuba

by Byron Motley

(University Press of Florida, Sept.)

Photographer Motley highlights daily life in Cuba, touching on the country’s architecture, music, and cars, as well as the Cubans’ widespread passion for baseball.


by Lorne Resnick

(Insight Editions, Nov.)

Resnick presents more than 250 color and black-and-white photos of Cuban life, from the 50 trips to the country he’s taken over the past 20 years. Brian Andreas writes accompanying text; Pico Iyer provides the foreword.

Havana Boxing Club

by Thierry Le Goues

(PowerHouse, Nov.)

French photographer Goues spent eight years compiling this collection, which depicts the world of boxing in Cuba, whose national team holds more Olympic medals in the sport than any other country.


Cuban Cocktails

by Ravi DeRossi, Jane Danger, Alla Lapushchik

(Sterling Epicure, Oct.)

DeRossi, owner of a Cuban-themed rum bar Cienfuegos in NYC, presents drinks ranging from the classic mojito to the more contemporary imperial fizz.

The Cuban Cigar Handbook

(Cider Mill Press, Apr. 2016)

This guide offers readers information on the various types of Cuban cigars, insight into how they are made, and anecdotes about celebrity connoisseurs—a group that includes John F. Kennedy, the man who enacted the trade embargo on Cuban goods in 1962.


by Enrique Fernandez (Books & Books Press, Oct.) This book’s subtitle—“my wanderings through Cuba’s mutilated yet resilient cuisine”offers a sense of the perspective of its writer, whose “memories of growing up in pre-Revolutionary Cuba” shaped his understanding of the “meaning and importance of food,” according to the publisher.


Two Moon guides—Moon Cuba and Moon Havana, both by travel writer Christopher P. Baker (Avalon), published earlier this year and offer maps, photos, asides on Cuban history.

Also available now, Insight Guides: Cuba, 6th ed. (Insight Guides), covers a wide spectrum of interests, including sightseeing, music, and birding.

Frommer’s EasyGuide to Cuba, 6th ed.

by Claire Boobbyer

(Frommer’s, Oct.)

Boobbyer, the author of the three most recent of Frommer’s’ six guides to Cuba, brings her expertise as a frequent writer and commentator—for the BBC and The Telegraph, among other media outlets—on Cuba.

Berlitz Cuba

(Berlitz, Oct.)

A top-10 list of Cuba’s best attractions and an outline of a “Perfect Day in Havana” are among the highlights in this comprehensive guide.

Lonely Planet Cuba, 8th ed.

(Lonely Planet, Nov.)

The newest edition of Lonely Planet’s popular guidebook includes maps, itinerary suggestions, money-saving advice, and reviews of attractions.

Fodor’s Cuba, 3rd ed.

(Fodor’s, Dec.)

Tips on sightseeing, rum drinking, and cigar sampling are among the highlights in this update to Fodor’s guide.

2016 and 2017 will bring additional guides to Cuba, including Cuba Handbook, 6th ed, by Sarah Cameron (Footprint Handbooks, May 2016); DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Cuba (DK, Oct. 2016), Rough Guide to Cuba (Rough Guides, Nov. 2016), and National Geographic Traveler Cuba, 4th ed. (National Geographic, Feb. 2017)


Cachita’s Streets: The Virgin Charity, Race, and Revolution in Cuba

by Jalane D. Schmidt

(Duke Univ., Sept.)

Religious scholar Schmidt offers a comprehensive look at the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, or “Cachita,” Cuba’s patron saint, examining in the ways in which various groups have used (and misused) her image to advance conflicting notions of Cuban identity.

Revolution within the Revolution: Women and Gender Politics in Cuba, 1952-1962 by Michelle Chase (Nov.) and Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution by Devyn Spence Benson (May 2016) are forthcoming in the University of North Carolina’s Envisioning Cuba series.

Tourism and Informal Encounters in Cuba

by Valerio Simoni

(Berghahn, Nov.)

Simoni brings an anthropologist’s eye to the subject of tourism in Cuba, paying special attention to “harassment, economic transactions, hospitality, friendship, and festive and sexual relationships,” according to the publisher.

Dangerous Moves: Politics and Performance in Cuba

by Coco Fusco

(Tate/Abrams, Nov.)

Writer and performer Fusco, who received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013, examines performance art in contemporary Cuba, arguing that, amid strict censorship, the medium has become the “favored means of social commentary,” according to the publisher.

Planet/Cuba: Art, Culture, and the Future of the Island

by Rachel Price

(Verso, Nov.)

Price, a professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Princeton, looks at how artists and writers in Cuba have responded to the effects of modernization and economic change in the country.

Cuban Studies

by Alejandro de la Fuente (Univ. of Pittsburgh, Jan. 2016)

The 44th edition of the journal Cuba Studies, which was founded in 1970 and which the University of Pittsburgh Press has been publishing since 1985, includes articles on economic change and the country’s “Special Period,” an extended period of economic crisis that began in 1989.

A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution: How the Working Class Shaped the Guerillas’ Victory

by Steve Cushion

(Monthly Review Press, Feb. 2016)

Cushion, a researcher focused on labor history, zeroes in on the role of the working class—long thought to be minimal—in the Cuban Revolution.

Escape to Miami

by Elizabeth Campisi

(Oxford Univ., Feb. 2016)

Twelve first-person accounts of the Cuban Rafter Crisis—in which thousands of Cuban émigrés were detained and imprisoned in camps, alongside Haitian refugees, in Guantánamo Bay in the mid-1990s—offer a window into life in the camps.

Daniel Lefferts is a writer in New York.

Below, more on the subject of Cuba books.

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As the U.S. rekindles its relationship with Cuba, new books examine the country’s history and culture.