I blame this project idea on Stu. Recently I’ve been reading more and more translated fiction and also chatting to Stu on Twitter. I always enjoy reading fiction from other countries and as Stu dedicates his blog to doing just that, it’s only right that I say I am wonderfully inspired by him. Now, I hope this project works, it will be tough to work it all out, but I will give it a damn good go.
In May 2008 my wife and I flew to Cuba for our honeymoon. While we were there we experienced both the luxuriant beauty, but also the poverty that wracks the country. I fell in love with the people and made some very good friends while we were there. The Cuban people are the most friendly and warm. Despite many of them having nothing, they give, give, give. I remember a tour guide of ours who took us into the town of Morón telling us that he qualified as a high school teacher, but gave up his dream of teaching in order to work in tourism because the money was so much better. While he smiled, you could see a sadness in his eyes and over coffee he explained how much it hurt to admit such a thing.
On the same trip, the beauty of the people shone in one specific moment. We were drinking in a bar and listening to a Cuban band play when suddenly there was a massive crack of thunder that shook the building. The first rain of the year had arrived and with the grounds so parched, this became a sudden cause for celebration. Within moments we were pulled to our feet to celebrate and dance in the rain with the locals. I’ve never seen such smiles for rainfall and it humbled me, made me thankful for what I had at home. As we left the bar we walked through the rivers running down the road and watched children splash in the gutters, a picture of joy.
I miss being there, I miss the smiles, I miss the sounds. So, in May I am aiming to read Cuban fiction. I want to spend the entire month reading Cuban translated fiction and Cuban authors, but this will depend on just how many books I can gather together. So far, I have a small list of books that I will attempt to obtain. Here’s the list:
- Explosion in a Cathedral by Alejo Carpentier
- The Lost Steps by Alejo Carpentier
- Three Trapped Tigers by Guillermo Cabera Infante
- Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas
- Adios, Hemingway by Leonardo Padura
- Dirty Havana Trilogy by Pedro Juan Gutierrez
If there are any books you think I’m missing or want to recommend, please let me know. Also, if you have any tips for places to buy them from (that isn’t Amazon) shout. The plan will be to read them in some sort of order so if people want to join in, they can. I will update my progress on Twitter, Goodreads and of course, on here.