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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Culture

Rediscovering Cuba: A Personal Memoir

Posted July 17, 2003 by publisher in Cuba Culture.
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Press Release

Jorge Reyes, author of the highly acclaimed, Rediscovering Cuba: A Personal Memoir, ISBN # 0-595-19457-5, will read from his book on July 31, at 8:00 p.m., at Books and Books, located at 265 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, 305-442-4408.

Now in it’s second edition, Jorge Reyes, author of Rediscovering Cuba: A Personal Memoir, brings up to date his highly acclaimed book which he first wrote in 1999. In this updated and rewritten edition, Reyes talks about his second trip to the island in 2003, which included a seven day road trip that took him from Havana to Santiago, this time with his mother and Josh, an American friend.

In 1982, at the age of eight, Jorge Reyes left Cuba with his parents through a third-country, Costa Rica, before settling permanently in Miami. In 1999, almost twenty years later, Reyes, along with his mother and an aunt, returned to Cuba hoping to say his final farewells to his grandmother who was living through her last stages of cancer. And so begins a poignant story that takes us from the busy streets of Miami one summer afternoon and into the surreal, far-away loneliness of Boniato, a small town on the outskirts of City of Santiago de Cuba, twelve hours later at 2:00 a.m.     

In an unexpected way, Reyes brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters you won’t forget any time soon, like his great-grandmother, Pepilla, an unlikable and embittered old woman who died arguing with a flock of pigeons; or his aunt Mimi, who sent her two children to the United States in the 1960’s hoping that they would be reunited in a few months’ time—a reunification that was not to happen until 1990, and only for a few weeks; we even get to read about ghosts rumored to haunt Reyes’s small family house in Boniato.

Opening a small world into the pain that to this day divides his family, Reyes describes how his father’s parents left him in 1968, at the age of seventeen, because he was of military service age. Again, like in Mimi’s case, this was a separation expected to be of short duration that lasted fifteen years.

There is palpable pain in this book and Reyes does a marvelous job trying to heal it with humor, grace and understanding. In a surprising admission of truth towards the end of the book, Reyes expresses his inability to feel connected with the Cuba he imagined or with his roots. Where was the paradise of his parents’ dreams? Why were his childhood memories so much real, so much magical than the present?

Written with immediacy and charm, Rediscovering Cuba: A Personal Memoir, is a short book that will leave you breathless.

Member Comments

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On February 02, 2004, Ivan Figueras wrote:

Good book.  An excellent first try by a Cuban-American to understand the differences among us Cubans.  Other books about Cuba from the new generation are only either 1) fiction 2) revisionist history.  This is part memoir, diary, dreams, reality and fiction.