We are often asked which destination we sell the most guides for and the answer, these days, is easy–Cuba wins hands down! If you are planning a visit, or simply want to learn more about the island nation that has captivated the American imagination for at least a century, here’s a list of our favorite books about Cuba, currently in stock at our Manhattan location at 170 7th Avenue South.
For the pleasure reader:
33 Revolutions by Canek Sánchez Guevara is a piercing novel about life in contemporary Cuba. The author was the grandson of Che Guevara, but he became an anti-Castro dissident and exile and died at the age of forty. This short novel examines how personal and political can intertwine and draws on Guevara’s own dramatic life.
Woman in Battle Dress by Antonio Benítez-Rojo is a novel about the woman who became the subject of the most scandalous trial in Cuban history. Henriette Faber, born in France in 1791, disguises herself as a man to go to medical school and continues living as a man for the next 15 years, including a stint as a surgeon in Napoleon’s army which brings her to a small town in Cuba where she settles. But when her true identity is revealed, she is brought to trial and national panic ensues…
Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas is a classic memoir by a legendary writer. Born in poverty in Cuba, Arenas became a revolutionary, a well-known writer, a prisoner, and finally an exile. His courage and dignity in the face of homophobic and political repression and finally illness with AIDS have inspired a cult of faithful readers.
The Cuba Reader edited by Aviva Chomsky, Barry Carr and Pamela Maria Smorkaloff is part of a wonderful series published by Duke University Press. This is the book for the traveler or scholar who really likes to know everything about a topic. Dozens of carefully selected texts from writers from Columbus to the present present a multi-faceted and complex version of the history and character of Cuba.
For the practical traveler:
Lonely Planet Cuba byis our most-sold guide. We recommend it for its clear layout, frequent updates, and capture of both high and low culture.
The 500 Hidden Secrets of Havana by Magalie Raman is the perfect guide for the jet-setting traveler who wants to know the most stylish addresses in the city. From high-end bars to state-run restaurants to literary landmarks, this is the Havana of an insider.
Hide this Spanish Book by Eve-Alice Roustang-Stoller is the right Spanish phrasebook for a weekend of debauchery in Havana–because the correct translation of “Vamos a parrandear esta noche!” (Let’s party tonight!) will be more useful for your trip than “Juan borrowed two books from the library.” At least–we hope so!