CASTRO'S DAUGHTER: An Exile's Memoir of Cuba by Alina Fernandez

CASTRO'S DAUGHTER: An Exile's Memoir of Cuba

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fidel's illegitimate offspring informs the waiting world that the Cuban dictator is not an especially cuddly fellow. Fernandez, now living in exile in Spain, recounts with a relentlessly thumb-in-mouth attitude her years of growing up in revolutionary Cuba. Her ""characters"" number not only Marxist heavies like Raul Castro and Che Guevara (who ""looked like a big frog,"" and who sired an illegitimate daughter of his own with ""a pair of prize-winning boobs""), but also elves, gnomes, and sprites. In the hands of Gabriel Garc'a M‡irquez, the bow to magical realism might have worked. But in this young woman's coming-of-age tale, the approach proves irretrievably cloying. Fernandez dishes plenty of dirt about her famous father, who was in no hurry to acknowledge her publicly, but who made sure she was blessed with a steady supply of Barbie dolls, chauffeured cars, and well-situated beaux. Some of the dirt here: Castro was once married to the daughter of a high official in the Batista dictatorship, a union that allowed him to receive a lenient sentence after his guerrilla band's ill-fated assault on Santiago, in which ""many of his men died or suffered torture, while Fidel had not even a single scratch."" A little more: His Highness liked to swim--hut only after the beaches had been cleared of any other bathers. And then, gulps Fernandez, Castro didn't approve of her frequent and disastrous marriages and love interests. Another item: He dispatched tens of thousands of Cuban soldiers, including some of her boyfriends, to die pointlessly in Angola. To punish her distant father, preoccupied with the business of spreading revolution and staving off Yanqui imperialism, Fernandez became a fashion model--and famine-stricken Cuba's only voluntary anorexic. Fidel must have been relieved when his daughter left town. Readers who brave her whines will feel that the book ends not a page too soon.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0312246064
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: St. Martin's