Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cristina Garcia's
Dreaming in Cuban

From Library Journal: Garcia's first novel is about Cuba, her native country, and three generations of del Pino women who are seeking spiritual homes for their passionate, often troubled souls. Celia del Pino and her descendants also share clairvoyant and visionary powers that somehow remain undiminished, despite the Cuban revolution and its profound effect upon their lives. This dichotomy suffuses their lives with a potent mixture of superstition, politics, and surrealistic charm that gives the novel an otherworldly atmosphere. Garcia juggles these opposing life forces like a skilled magician accustomed to tossing into the air fiery objects that would explode if they came into contact. Writing experimentally in a variety of forms, she combines narratives, love letters, and monologs to portray the del Pinos as they move back and forth through time. Garcia tells their story with an economy of words and a rich, tropical imagery, setting a brisk but comfortable pace.

This is truly an unforgettable book. I could feel the ocean breezes as I read Garcia's descriptive illustrations of the life of Celia, the grandmother; her daughters, Felicia and Lourdes; and Lourdes' own daughter, Pilar. There is violence, murder, passion, birth and death in this book, but all told as one reviewer put it "in a sort of lyrical mist, so that the reader feels the torpid heat of the Cuban day, the gentle warmth of the sea, and the breezes that stir the palms." While beautifully written, this novel provides a little bit of understanding of this small nation-island.

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