Book review: “Havana Real” by Yoani Sánchez

This review by Mary Speck of The Washington Post is the first review I’ve found in the US of the Cuban blogger’s new book.

Havana Real by Yoani Sánchez (Melville House)

No revolution has cultivated the image of manly, youthful rebellion longer and more successfully than Cuba’s. The iconic image of Cuban communism remains the famous photo of a young Che Guevara .

So it is fitting that the Cuban Revolution ‘s best-known dissident is the anti-Che in almost every respect: a slender, bookish woman who writes “Generation Y ,” an intensely personal blog that eschews exhortations and absolute truths. Yoani Sánchez has gained an international following by chronicling the lives of those taught as school children to chant “we will be like Che” only to see their existence reduced to working at dead-end jobs, standing in line at half-empty state stores or hustling for enough cash to shop at convertible-currency-only supermarkets.

The contrast between the exalted rhetoric of Cuban communism and the realities of life in Havana has created “new men” (and women), but not in the way envisioned by the bearded guerrillas who came to power in 1959. “Our autocracy produced unexpected results, far from fanaticism or veneration,” Sánchez writes in a new collection of her work, “Havana Real: One Woman Fights to Tell the Truth About Cuba Today.”

“Instead of stern-faced soldiers, it bred apathy, indifference, people who concealed their true selves, rafters, infidels, and young people fascinated by material goods.”

The Cubans who populate these blog posts, written from 2007 to 2010, hold out little hope for top-down economic change. Instead they plot escape plans, leaving those who stay behind, like Sánchez, in the “sad position of having to remake my group of friends.”

For the original review go to http://www.denverpost.com/books/ci_18406666

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