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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Disappointing narrator

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ernie
  • Bloomington, IL, United States
  • 03-10-12

Wonderful

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Both, and for the same reasons... The people, the country, the times and the culture.

Any additional comments?

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • LS
  • Berkeley, CA. USA
  • 02-10-16

Poorly chosen narrator

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!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Like Watching a Stranger's Home Videos

Any additional comments?

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

disappointing narrator

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I had trouble with the narration style and found myself constantly getting pulled out of the story by the overly theatrical narrator.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I am very interested in Cuban history, so probably another book within this genre.

What didn’t you like about David Drummond’s performance?

His narration style is overly theatrical and does not capture the magic of the Spanish language.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I didn't listen to the whole book, I found it to be very slow.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Reliving my lost childhood

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Snow in Havana

Very slow moving. Some really good pars but save the time and don't get it. Could have been terrific about how the takeover affected the lives of many but it fell short.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Too redundant – needs a good editor. The narrator is wonderful, but the story really lacks punch. It

Too redundant and really needs a good editor. The narrator however is wonderful and ithe scenes of Cuba are well done, but the story lacks a punch.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • mj
  • 05-17-17

Tedious Reading Distracts From Story

What did you like best about Waiting for Snow in Havana? What did you like least?

I think that the story (so far) is well written and entertaining. Drummond is driving me nuts. Every sentence has the same rhythm and emphasis, paradoxically creating a narration which is both tedious and over-dramatic. All of the humor that I know is in there is completely lost.

Would you be willing to try another one of David Drummond’s performances?

No.

What else would you have wanted to know about Carlos Eire’s life?

I haven't gotten far enough.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Narrator was not right fit.

As a Cuban American and native Spanish speaker, this narrator was not a good choice due to lack of the accent when speaking the Spanish parts (incredibly important for impact). It didn't even come close; it was distracting from story and intent. It also sounded almost monotonous. I ended up reading the physical book.