New Book: Havana and Other Missing Fathers


Mia Leonin “grew up believing her father was dead, and after years of listening to her mother’s disparate stories regarding his identity— internist, ophthalmologist, Filipino, foreign islander— she finally learned the truth shortly after her 16th birthday. Her father was a Cuban exile, a psychiatrist sent to Louisville to get his American medical certification, and he wasn’t dead;” he was very much alive and living in Florida. Havana and Other Missing Fathers (2009) is a memoir tracing Leonin’s rocky trajectory to meet her father, to discover the truth about his life, and to learn more about her origins.

Her journey takes her to Miami, Colombia, and Cuba, and her search for cultural identity leads her to create memories, friendships, and romances. She finds moments of connection and redemption, ending up in Havana not as a cultural tourist but as an illegitimate daughter of Cuba looking for validation.

The Miami New Times says:  In the hands of a lesser writer, Leonin’s search-for-identity memoir could be irksome: a slight story about a white girl trying on Cuban culture like an awkwardly fitting Halloween costume. Instead, her journey to Miami, Bogotá, Havana, and back is a riveting and heartbreaking page-turner.

Mia Leonin is a poet, University of Miami creative writing professor, and former Miami New Times theater critic. Her poetry has been published in a wide array of literary journals. She is also the author of the poetry collections Unraveling the Bed (2008) and Braid (1999).

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For more on Mia Leonin, see the author’s page at

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