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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

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • 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!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ernie
  • Birmingham, AL 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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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

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

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Poignant Coming of Age Story

Moving story about a boy's life in Cuba during the period of Castro's coming to power.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing! A must read.

My family left Cuba in February 1969 when I was eight years old. I hardly remember anything, but this book brings back some memories that I apparently suppressed. The book is beautiful and poetic. It's sad and factual. It encapsulates what it's like to be a Cuban exile child.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good, not great.

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I liked it more as it went along.

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An emotional trip with transforming clarity

The author takes you with him with beautiful words and captures this Cuban experience that transcends to many people in many cultures!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful