Achy Obejas discusses her new book Ruins, which tells the story of Usnavy, a young man who eagerly signed on for all the promises when the Cuban Revolution triumphed in 1959. But as the years have passed, the sacrifices have outweighed the glories and he has become increasingly isolated in his revolutionary zeal. His friends openly mock him, his wife dreams of owning a car totally outside their reach, and his beloved 14-year-old daughter haunts the coast of Havana, staring north.
In the summer of 1994, a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government allows Cubans to leave at will and on whatever will float. More than 100,000 flee, including his best friend. Things seem to brighten when Usnavy stumbles across what may or may not be a priceless Tiffany lamp that reveals a lost family secret and fuels his long repressed feelings . But now Usnavy is faced with a choice between love for his family and the Revolution that has shaped his entire life.
This event was co-sponsered by the MIT Women and Gender Studies Department and the Center for New Words.
Achy Obejas worked for more than 10 years for The Chicago Tribune, writing and reporting about arts and culture. Among literally thousands of stories, she helped cover Pope John Paul II's historic 1998 visit to Cuba, the arrival of Al-Queda prisoners in Guantanamo, the Versace murder, and the AIDS epidemic.