2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, Cuba. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s known for stunning art nouveau architecture, amazing food, influential style and genre-bending music. Luckily I was able to spend a few hours in Havana in 2018. It’s a rich, welcoming, lovely place, and despite the economic challenges, a sincere sense of pride. I hope I am able to return someday.
Until then, here are three books about Cuba to highlight some of its amazing culture.
This is Cuba
By David Aristo
from the publisher: This is Cuba is a true story that begins in the summer of 2009 when a young American photo-journalist is offered the chance of a lifetime—a two-year assignment in Havana. For David Ariosto, the island is an intriguing new world, unmoored from the one he left behind. From neighboring military coups, suspected honey traps, salty spooks, and desperate migrants to dissidents, doctors, and Havana’s empty shelves, Ariosto uncovers the island’s subtle absurdities, its Cold War mystique, and the hopes of a people in the throes of transition. Beyond the classic cars, salsa, and cigars lies a country in which black markets are ubiquitous, free speech is restricted, privacy is curtailed, sanctions wreak havoc, and an almost Kafka-esque goo of Soviet-style bureaucracy still slows the gears of an economy desperate to move forward.In This Is Cuba, Ariosto looks at Cuba from the inside-out over the course of nine years, endeavoring to expose clues for what’s in store for the island as it undergoes its biggest change in more than half a century.
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (December 11, 2018)
Our Man Down in Havana
from the publisher: When U.S. immigration authorities deported Graham Greene from Puerto Rico in 1954, the British author made an unplanned visit to Havana and discovered that “every vice was permissible and every trade possible” in a Caribbean fleshpot of mafia-run casinos and nude revues. The former MI6 officer had stumbled upon the ideal setting for a comic espionage story. Three years later, he returned in the midst of Fidel Castro’s guerrilla insurgency against a U.S.-backed dictator to begin writing his iconic novel Our Man in Havana. Twelve weeks after its publication, the Cuban Revolution triumphed in January 1959, soon transforming a capitalist playground into a communist stronghold. Combining biography, history, and politics, Our Man Down in Havana investigates the real story behind Greene’s fictional one.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Pegasus Books; 1 edition (March 5, 2019)
Dogs of Cuba
from the publisher: Discover the lives of Cuba’s dogs through the lens of award-winning photographer Emmy Park. This book is full of beautiful and raw images; explore the relationship between Cubans and their canine companions that roam the colorful streets, iconic landmarks, and remote areas of Cuba. Learn about local animal rescue organizations that provide care and medical attention to dogs without homes, and why they need support. Featuring every Cuban province, be transported into the daily lives of dogs against the backdrop of rugged streets and lush landscapes.
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Schiffer; 1 edition (September 28, 2019)