Four Cuban Writers Go To Paradise / Carlos Esquivel, in Sampsonia Way Magazine

Luis Trapaga
Luis Trapaga

Translated by Karen González

Nicolasa Guillén, Virgilia Piñera, Regina Pedroso, and Josefa Lezama Lima leave to go to paradise for a week. However, upon getting there they find out that, in fact, they have arrived at the steps of a ramshackle hotel for writers where they must imagine that they’ve arrived at paradise.

In addition, they are forced to pay an astounding amount to stay there, and among the guests sharing paradise with them, there were infamous writers from many countries whom they always intuited to be literary disgraces.

Astonished, they looked at each other. Of course they could not quit. A week would go by quickly in paradise, said Nicolasa, who held the sign of “I am in charge here, and it will be done as I consider prudent.”

Nicolasa Guillén, Virgilia Piñera, Regina Pedroso, and Josefa Lezama Lima stayed in ramshackle rooms, and that night, after a derisory dinner, they received an invitation to a literary gala where they would have to gulp down lectures delivered by several of those other, infamous writers.

Virgilia Piñera said that she would rather have a drink at a nearby bar. Nicolasa could not prevent it, for she too wanted to escape, but could not on account of her simulated officiality. The others, who wanted to demonstrate their fidelity to her under any circumstance, also stayed.

And so they slept pleasantly while their colleagues read somniferous poems.

Pleasantly? No.

While the reading took place, Nicolasa dreamed that in one of the streets of paradise she found a man who ate books by Cuban authors. They taste horrible, the old man said while chewing on a recently published novel. The worst ones are those by Nicolas Guillén, too coarse, as if the most artificial condiment was the author’s very name.

When Nicolasa tried to reprehend the book eater, twist his neck, she woke up with her hands wrapped around the neck of a Costa Rican poet.

Regina Pedroso dreamed that she had committed suicide six times. Without success, or successfully, depending on your point of view. They were eccentric suicides. One of them consisted of living as a regular citizen in her own country. A voice inside the dream rumored that that oneiric episode was too exhausting, that no punishment could prove to be so drastic as that one.

She woke up startled, believing she was in her house, living and dying the suicide as the final punishment of her days. Then, relief ran through her for a few seconds.


The publication of this story is part of Sampsonia Way Magazine’s “CUBAN NEWRRATIVE: e-MERGING LITERATURE FROM GENERATION ZERO” project, in collaboration with Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, and a collection of authors writing from Cuba.