"Intimate, eye-opening account"
Updated: Mar 11
Our first review is now in. Publishers Weekly took a look at The Cubans and wrote convincingly of the book's ability to change the way Cuba, and its people, are viewed. Here it is:
Journalist DePalma (The Man Who Invented Fidel) delivers a sensitive portrait of Cubans navigating their “bizarre mash-up of an economy” from the 1970s through 2018. Drawn from the eastern Havana neighborhood of Guanabacoa, DePalma’s subjects include Caridad “Cary” Luisa Limonta Ewen, a Communist party member and economic engineer of Jamaican descent, and artist Arturo Montoto, who returned to Cuba after a “self-imposed exile” in Chile and Mexico and makes “subtle social commentaries” in his still-life paintings. Though the U.S. embargo has created a culture of deprivation since 1960, the situation grew much worse, according to DePalma, during the “special period” in the 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union left Cuba without its main backer. He movingly relates the story of one survivor of the 1994 sinking of the 13 de Marzo, a tugboat filled with refugees that witnesses say was attacked by the Cuban coast guard, resulting in the deaths of 37 people. Recent food shortages, uncertainty over the transition of power between Raúl Castro and newly elected resident Miguel Díaz-Canel, and a crackdown on private businesses and wealth accumulation, DePalma writes, have led to fears that more hard times are coming. In impressively specific detail, DePalma captures the suffering and resilience of ordinary Cubans caught between the political posturing of their government and the U.S. Readers will savor this intimate, eye-opening account.