THE EXILE by David Rieff


Cuba in the Heart of Miami
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 A skilled journalist's affecting and compassionate take on southern Florida's affluent, middle-aged Cubans--whose collective dream of returning to the fondly remembered island paradise of their privileged childhood has become anguishingly chimerical. Rieff (Los Angeles, 1991; Going to Miami, 1987) focuses on the experience of Cuban-born men and women whose upper-income families fled to the US in the immediate aftermath of Castro's overthrow of the Batista regime. Now in their 40s, these involuntary immigrants have prospered in business, the professions, and government, in the process making Miami rock to a Latin beat. While the people of ``the exile'' (an allusive collective term akin to, say, ``the diaspora'') have resisted assimilation and kept their culture remarkably intact, Rieff leaves little doubt that they are in the throes of an emotional crisis. Having viewed their adoptive city as a sort of halfway house, Cuban-Americans have come to the bittersweet realization that it's probably home. Nearly three years after the Berlin Wall's collapse, Castro still clings to power, and those emigrÇs who make sentimental journeys to Cuba find they have little in common with friends or relatives who remained behind. Nor, on the basis of Rieff's anecdotal evidence, do these expatriates' US-born sons and daughters (now marrying outside the community in ever greater numbers) share the idyllic, if increasingly ambivalent, aspirations of their parents, who not only have been overtaken by events but also have put down roots deeper than they imagined. A tellingly detailed take on a notably cohesive ethnic minority's slow-motion absorption into the melting pot.

Pub Date: Aug. 2nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-77604-5
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1993


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