The Book of Havana

Edited by Orsola Casagrande

When a history teacher decides to throw out an old, threadbare Cuban flag, he doesn’t plan for the air of suspicion that quickly descends on him…

A woman’s attempt to register ownership of her family home draws her into a bureaucratic labyrinth that requires a grasp of higher mathematics to fully comprehend…

On the day of their graduation, a group of students spend the night drinking around the ‘Fountain of Youth’, ironically celebrating the bright future that doesn’t await them…

The stories gathered in this anthology reflect the many complex challenges Havana’s citizens have had to endure as a result of their country’s political isolation – from the hardships of the ‘Special Period’, to the pitfalls of Cuba’s schizophrenic currency system, to the indignities of becoming a cheap tourist destination for well-heeled Westerners. Moving through various moments in its recent history, as well as through different neighbourhoods – from the prefab, Soviet-era maze of Alamar, to the bars and nightclubs of the Malecón and Vedado – these stories also demonstrate the defiance of Havana: surviving decades of economic disappointment with a flair for the comic, the surreal and the fantastical that remains as fresh as the first dreams of revolution.

Translated from the Spanish by Orsola Casagrande and Séamas Carraher.


One of the Culture Trip's Editor's Picks for June.
'This book proves what it set out to prove, that Havana, and more widely its surrounding country, is not simply a remnant of the Cold War, is not a footnote to US history.' - Connor Harrison, Disclaimer Magazine


'It’s a collection that’s saturated with the sights and smells of Havana, that will lead you through the backstreets to show you the reality of the city in all its glory and squalor.' –Indie Lit Fic
'The collection raised a lot of questions, and certainly got me thinking about Cuban literature.' - Lucy Chatburn, Bookmunch

'These stores, by male and female Cuban writers living on the island, from different generations, with different approaches, reveal Havana life as equally complex, diverse and in constant change.' - Trish Meehan, CubaSi (the magazine of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign)
Read editor Orsola Casagrande's piece about the 'very active and dynamic breed of writers' in Cuba on The Irish Times website.

Read a guest blog by translator Séamas Carraher on the process of translating and editing the stories from The Book of Havana here.

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Buy Single Stories

Into Tiny Pieces
The Trinity of Havana

Book Details

21 Jun 2018