National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2003
A childhood in a privileged household in 1950s Havana was joyous and cruel, like any other - but with certain differences. The neighbor's monkey was liable to escape and run across your roof. Surfing was conducted by driving cars across the breakwater. Lizards and firecrackers made frequent contact.
Carlos Eire's childhood was a little different from most. His father was convinced he had been Louis XVI in a past life. At school, classmates with fathers in the Batista government were attended by chauffeurs and bodyguards. At a home crammed with artifacts and paintings, portraits of Jesus spoke to him in dreams and nightmares. Then, in January 1959, the world changed: Batista was suddenly gone, a cigar-smoking guerrilla took his place, and Christmas was cancelled. The echo of firing squads was everywhere. And, one by one, the author's schoolmates begin to disappear - spirited away to the United States. Carlos would end up there himself, without his parents, never to see his father again.
Narrated with the urgency of a confession, Waiting for Snow in Havana is both an ode to a paradise lost and an exorcism. More than that, it captures the terrible beauty of those times when we are certain we have died - and then are somehow, miraculously, reborn.
©2003 Carlos Eire (P)2011 Tantor
"As painful as Eire's journey has been, his ability to see tragedy and suffering as a constant source of redemption is what makes this book so powerful." (Publishers Weekly)
This National Book Award-winning memoir is a delight. Eire's observations of his time in Havana as a young boy growing up in a well-to-do family, before the revolution, reflect the unique perspective of youth on family and daily events yet also reveal glimpses into the future as a "lost boy" evacuated from Cuba shortly after Castro came into power. I loved his "voice" as the author, but I did not care at all for the reader's interpretation of the book. His mostly flat, predictably metered reading I found tedious. He did manage some different voices for the female characters and the odd sound effects. But I don't think he did the story justice. I would still recommend the book, just listen to a sample first to see if you're willing to spend so many hours with that voice.
Both, and for the same reasons... The people, the country, the times and the culture.
Just wonderful, I can finally recommend a book to my American friends that explains what we Cuban American immigrants really experienced in pre and post-revolutionary Cuba. I am so glad that this story is finally being told and hopefully understood.
I am the child of a Cuban immigrant and was very excited to listen to this book. The story is very different from my family's, as is every immigrant story. It was interesting, but I really struggled with the narrator. I'm sure he's great when imparting another story, but this one is told in the first person by someone who not only speaks Spanish as a first language, but throws Spanish words in throughout the story. Listening to a non-Spanish speaker say Spanish words with an audible American accent when playing the role of a native Spanish speaker was terrible. It constantly broke down the 4th wall and, for me, made the story difficult to listen to. Bad casting!
Say something about yourself!
I have read numerous books on Cuba, the Cuban Revolution, the principle players at the time and the part America played in it. While mildly amusing at times, I found this book to be historically incorrect at times and just plain boring. After struggling to the end of the book, I was just glad it was over.
I had trouble with the narration style and found myself constantly getting pulled out of the story by the overly theatrical narrator.
I am very interested in Cuban history, so probably another book within this genre.
His narration style is overly theatrical and does not capture the magic of the Spanish language.
I didn't listen to the whole book, I found it to be very slow.
The glimpse of what life was like for the upper class living in Havana before Castro took over. Carlos believed his life was beautiful and would stay that way. It dramatically changed when he left Cuba with nothing.
This book could be the Latino version of Angela's Ashes except the story is in reverse. First he enjoys a great life only to leave cuba to be thrown to the bottom of the heap. Treated with deference in his own country, Carlos is greeted in Florida by being called "spic."
Carlos - he grew, he suffered, but he retained his sense of humor.
There were some touching parts. He never really explained the hold Ernesto had over their father. If it was blackmail. he should have said so. Although his story is touching, it certainly could have survived without a lot of the philosophizing. that seemed to increase as the the story progressed.
It was good. A little hard to follow at times because he would jump from memory to memory. I also wish he would have talked more about leaving Cuba but that might be the next book. my husband's family is Cuban so I love this kind of stuff.
This is the third book on Cuba I have read since my recent trip there. I thought the narration was excellent, both for the first person and the voices of the other characters. I don't really see why others did not like the narrator.
At times the story wandered a bit, but I am sure it was intentional to illustrate the wandering of the boy's mind. I am not able to comment on the historical accuracy, but since this is a memoir, I take it to be the way the author remembers it. Lots of funny and interesting personal stories set within the larger issue of Cuba. Nostalgic for anyone brought up in the 1950's. It covers a lot of ground in the author's life, and does jump back and forth a bit, but there is no problem following what is going on. Definitely entertaining and a wonderful peek into the past of the author.
Thank you Carlos for making me go deep into my Cuban Abyss.... I loved how you described in vivid detail our childhood, the lost and gain ..... I left in 1961 and have never returned. Your book is beautifully written
Very much was moved by this book. So many juicy metaphors and the reading was terrific!
I binged listened, and can't wait to go to Cuba in two months!
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