Cubanabooks: A Non-Profit Publisher of Cuban Women

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Cuban poet and novelist Marilyn Bobés writes on Cubanabooks, a non-profit publisher of Cuban women’s works founded by Dr. Sara Cooper (California State University). Here are excerpts of an interview with Cooper:

U.S. university professor Sara Cooper is the founder of a veritable publisher’s dream: Cubanabooks. The publishing house has already begun to secure prestige in both Cuba and the United States thanks to the tenacity of a woman who defends literature written by women and Queer Studies. She is currently working at the California State University, devoting much of her time to publish the work of Cuban women living in the United States. At a time when curiosity about Cuba may well extend to its literature, Sara Cooper has a feeling that her project may become one more way for the countries – which opened their respective embassies on July 20 – to begin a difficult normalization process to involve the sphere of culture – to get to know each other better.

We approached Cooper to learn more about her and her expectations for her initiative, which has neatly become a reality and one more bridge between the United States and Cuba – an initiative focused through the lens of women, the always neglected gender that struggles to secure the place it deserves on both shores of the Strait of Florida.

How, when, why and with what aims was Cubanabooks born?  Cubanabooks was established in 2010 with the publication of our first book, an anthology of short stories by Mirta Yáñez (Havana Is a Really Big City). Then, in 2011, we transitioned into the non-profit sector. For many years, I had been interested in Cuban literature, and women’s literature in particular.

In 1998 I met Mirta Yáñez. We developed a strong friendship and collegial relationship, on the basis of which I began to translate some of Mirta’s stories into English for eventual publication in the United States. Given the multiplicity of obstacles that stood in the way of achieving that end, over the span of a few years, I almost gave up. Publishing houses (big and small) didn’t want to take the risk with an author who was unknown in the United States and didn’t write detective or erotic stories. They were also afraid about the legal and financial implications stemming from the embargo. After many long conversations with Mirta, we decided we were willing to “change the world,” and so we took on the work of creating a press dedicated to publishing first class literary texts by Cuban women. And that’s when we came up with the name Cubanabooks.

Another objective of ours is to publish in bilingual editions. . I didn’t want just my English-speaking friends and relatives to get to know the treasure of Cuban literature, I also wanted to have a source of Cuban literature for the Spanish classes I teach at university. Aside from the first, all of the books we have put out have both the Spanish and the English, which makes them available to a broader audience. [. . .]

What books has Cubanabooks published to date and which are currently being edited? In addition to the books I’ve mentioned, our publishing house has published other volumes, for a total of eight books, namely: two novels (The Bleeding Wound/Sangra por la herida, by Mirta Yáñez/trans. Sara E. Cooper, and The Memory of Silence/Memoria del silencio, by Uva de Aragón/trans. Jeffrey C. Barnett), three short story anthologies (Disconnect/Desencuentro, by Nancy Alonso/trans. Anne Fountain, Ophelias/Ofelias, [by] Aida Bahr/trans. Dick Cluster, An Address in Havana/Una dirección en La Habana, by María Elena Llana/trans. Barbara Riess) and two volumes of poetry (Homing Instincts/Querencias, by Nancy Morejón/trans. Pam Carmell, and Always Rebellious/Cimarroneando, by Georgina Herrera/trans. Juanamaría Cordones-Cook).

We have four stages of review and editing, from the initial consideration of a text in the original Spanish, with several of the editors opining, to the detailed final editing of the bilingual edition. At this moment no project is in the final phase, but we are working on four new projects that have been accepted and for which we have built a team of author, translator, and two editors. These projects are: Sobre espíritus y otros misterios/About Spirits and Other Mysteries (short stories), Esther Díaz Llanillo, translated by Manuel Martínez; Desde los blancos manicomios/no working title in translation yet (novel), Margarita Mateo Palmer, translated by Rebecca Hanssens-Reed; Rebaños/Flocks (poetry), Zurelys López Amaya, translated by Jeffrey C. Barnett; Un solo bosque negro y Las visitas (poetry), Mirta Yáñez, translated by Elizabeth Miller. We also have projects by eight new authors under consideration, mostly in the genres of novel and short story. [. . .]

For full article and interview, see http://oncubamagazine.com/culture/cubanabooks-a-non-profit-publisher-of-cuban-women/

[See related posts Feminist Cuban author visits Bay Area and Mirta Yáñez’s Havana Is a Really Big City and Other Stories.]

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