‘Eros and Politics’, by the Irreverent Juan Abreu, Stands Out Amongst Books by Cuban Authors Published in April

All the latest monthly literary releases, including works by recently deceased authors. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Xavier Carbonell, Salamanca, 1 May 2023 – To celebrate the centenary of the Cuban author Fina García Marruz, who died in June 2022, the Spanish publishing house Huso has reprinted her book Pequeñas memorias [Little Memories], which they first published in 1955. Wife of essayist Cintio Vitier and member of Grupo Orígenes, García Marruz was one of the most influential voices of twentieth century Cuban poetry. 

According to her niece — also a writer — Josefina de Diego, the author of Pequeñas memorias doesn’t only offer conventional anecdotes but also an inventory of memories “with a deep and intensive poetic charge”, as well as a portrait of her own character. The volume is also a “beautiful homage to a person who dedicated her whole life, with love, respect and passion, to literature”.

The narrator and dramatist Abilio Estévez, who recently published the short story collection Cómo conocí al sembrador de árboles [How I Met the Tree-Planter] (Tusquets), provides readers with the play Las palomas y el general [ The Doves and the General] (a ceremony by Tierra Caliente in thirteen insane episodes). According to Abel González Melo, it’s a book that “dissects, from the very ruins of Utopia  the voracious labyrinth of barbarity”, and which follows the legacy of novels about Latin American dictators.

The new edition of Eros y política [Eros and Politics] (Alegoría), by Juan Abreu, was presented at the Café Guijon in Madrid on 26 April, by the deputy of the Popular Party – Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo. The scathing and irreverent portraits of numerous Spanish public figures — accompanied by his own illustrations — consolidates the author as one of the most liberal voices in written prose among Cuban exiles.

The poet and critic Roberto Méndez revives, through his biography Felipe Castro and the Catholic University Association (Universal), the story of the Galician Jesuit who founded one of the island’s most active youth institutions during the Republican era, which Fidel Castro set about closing down after 1959. The association, still active in Miami, played an essential role in supporting the Cuban exiles who organised the expedition against the dictatorship in the Bay of Pigs in 1961. 

Un día como hoy [One Day Like Today] (Bahía), by Alcides Herrera, presented in New York this month as part of a tribute to its author, was described as a “neo-historicist exercise in parody” by Elvia Rosa Castro. In his pages, she added, Herrera subverts the “institutionalised history drowned in its own tedium and in its own lessons and regulations” and turns it into a story. 

A new edition of El negrero [The Slave Trader] has been added to the Verbum catalogue: the unorthodox biography which Lino Novás Calvo wrote about the colonial slaver Pedro Blanco Fernández de Trava. The Spanish writer José Manuel Caballero Bonald, who died in 2021, described Calvo thus: “He may be included in the list of great creators of marine adventure novels — writers like Conrad, Stevenson, London and Melville”. 

The literary magazine Bifronte, coordinated between 2005 and 2006 by writers Luis Felipe Rojas and Michael Hernández – with the support of the bishop of Holguín — was digitised and made available to readers by Rialta. In its editions there appeared texts by writers who were polemical and “difficult” (for the regime) and who eventually had to abandon the country — people such as Antonio José Ponte, Rafael Vilches, Carlos Esquivel and Ernesto Santana.

Bifronte was born for dialogue, for conveying ideas and for putting together a new vehicle that would steer ahead, towards tomorrow. One particular conviction? Never just one, but similar ones to this one were prized: that culture never survives a false unanimity” — a belief held by its editors since its first launch. The magazine published stories, poetry, articles, reviews and interviews, with its focus on contemporary Cuban literature. 

The death of storyteller and promoter Eduardo Heras Leon motivated a polemic about his role in the cultural politics of the Revolution. Since the announcement of his passing on 13 April, many of his students from the Onelio Jorge Cardoso Centre for Literary Training (founded with the foresight of Fidel Castro) as well as many Cuban writers on and outside of the island, remembered distinct episodes from Heras’s life and offered up judgements on his complicity with the regime. 

Also recently deceased — in the U.S. — is the writer and teacher Lourdes Gil. The Cuban Cultural Centre in New York, an institution with which she collaborated closely, remembered her as “a complete Martí specialist and dear friend”. Gil directed the literary magazines Romanica and Lyra, and had a recognised academic career in the United States, a country she arrived in as a young girl in 1961 as part of Operation Peter Pan

With the awarding of the Cervantes Prize to the Venezuelan poet Tafael Cadenas on 24 April, the relationship between literature and democracy gained a new prominence in Latin America. During the prize ceremony, the author of Derrota [Defeat] declared the urgency with which the world must defend freedoms in countries like Venezuela – which, along with Cuba and Nicaragua represents the most retrograde and therefore toxic form of leftist politics in the region — and asked that literature “recreate”, through education, democratic thought. 

Translated by Ricardo Recluso


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.