DREAMING IN CUBAN by Cristina Garcia


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A patchwork of incident, memory, letters, dreams and visions provides glimpses of a Cuban family at home and in exile in the '70's and '80's, but Garcia's debut suffers from its fragmented style. From disparate times, places, and (mostly female) points-of-view, Garcia reveals the circumstances and inner lives of various members of the del Pino family. Widowed matriarch Celia--who loved and lost a Spaniard, then married and went crazy--still lives near Havana, fulfilled at last by her active participation in Communist activities and quasi-erotic loyalty to El Líder, Fidel Castro. Daughter Felicia--who talks like a García Lorca poem--suffers episodes of violent insanity and amnesia, then seeks healing through the African-derived religion Santería. Meanwhile, Felicia's twin daughters repudiate her while her son Ivanito becomes a mama's boy. Celia's son Javier works in Czechoslovakia. Daughter Lourdes fled Cuba with her husband, opened the Yankee Doodle Bakery in Brooklyn, and thrives on American life, quickly embracing cold weather, capitalism, and prejudice. Her father, Jorge (Celia's husband), who died in New York following cancer treatment, continues to manifest himself to her. Lourdes's artistic daughter Pilar paints a scandalous punk Statue of Liberty and has psychic conversations with Celia. After a Santería-inspired vision, Pilar convinces Lourdes to return to Cuba for a reunion. Garcia explores Cuban culture and illustrates the dislocations of a family, but the novel--told through interior visions rather than action--lacks sufficient freshness of insight to be consistently compelling.

Pub Date: March 9th, 1992
ISBN: 0345381432
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Knopf