Friday, May 29, 2015

#FridayReads: The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba by Brin-Jonathan Butler

The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba by Brin-Jonathan Butler:

A powerful and lively work of immersive journalism, Brin-Jonathan Butler's story of his time chasing the American dream through Cuba

Whether he’s hustling his way into Mike Tyson’s mansion for an interview, betting his life savings on a boxing match (against the favorite), becoming romantically entangled with one of Fidel Castro’s granddaughters, or simply manufacturing press credentials to go where he wants—Brin-Jonathan Butler has always been the "act first, ask permission later" kind of journalist.

This book is the culmination of Butler’s decade spent in the trenches of Havana, trying to understand a culture perplexing to westerners: one whose elite athletes regularly forgo multimillion-dollar opportunities to stay in Cuba and box for their country, while living in penury. Butler’s fascination with this distinctly Cuban idealism sets him off on a remarkable journey, training with, befriending, and the champion boxers that Cuba seems to produce more than any other country.

In the process, though, Butler gets to know the landscape of the exhilaratingly warm Cuban culture—and starts to question where he feels most at home. In the tradition of Michael Lewis and John Jeremiah Sullivan, Butler is a keen and humane storyteller, and the perfect guide for this riotous tour through the streets of Havana.

BRIN-JONATHAN BUTLER is a writer and filmmaker. His work has appeared in ESPN Magazine, Vice, Deadspin, The Wall Street Journal, Salon, and The New York Times. Butler’s documentary, Split Decision, is Butler’s examination of Cuban American relations and the economic and cultural paradoxes that have shaped them since Castro’s revolution, through the lens of elite Cuban boxers forced to choose between remaining in Cuba or defecting to America.

Friday, May 08, 2015

#FridayReads: Sofrito by Phillippe Diederich

Sofrito by Phillippe Diederich:

A Cuban-American travels to Havana searching for a secret recipe where he finds love and the truth about his father.


"In this entertaining debut novel, Frank Delgado tries to save his failing restaurant by returning to Cuba, his dead father's homeland, to get ahold of a top-secret chicken recipe. But there is more than delicious chicken at stake here. Food is the road home-geographically, emotionally, metaphorically. Peppered with cooking advice from chefs, ordinary folks, and celebrities including Fidel Castro himself (an advocate of pork), Phillipe Diederich's Sofrito is a love letter to the deepest recesses of nostalgia's heart."-Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban and King of Cuba

Frank Delgado is no thief. He co-owns a failing Cuban restaurant in Manhattan's Upper East Side. The restaurant, like Frank, is rudderless. Lost. He decides he'll save the restaurant by traveling to Cuba to steal the legendary chicken recipe from the famed El Ajillo restaurant in Havana. The recipe is a state secret, so prized that no cook knows the whole recipe. But Frank's rationale is ironclad-Fidel stole the secret from his family, so he will steal it back. He will triumphantly bring that recipe back to Manhattan and turn his fortunes around.

Frank has no interest in Cuba. His parents fled after the Revolution. His dead father spent his life erasing all traces of Cuba from his heart with barbeques, television, lawn mowing and alcohol. So Frank is not prepared for the real Cuba. Sure, he gets beat up and almost killed, the secret service threatens him, but in the midst of the chaos, he falls in love with a prostitute and the city, and he unwraps the heroic story of his parents' life. Cuba begins to bind Frank together, the way a good sofrito binds the flavors of a Cuban dish.

Phillippe Diederich is a Haitian-American writer. Born in the Dominican Republic, he was raised in Mexico City and Miami. His parents were kicked out of Haiti by the dictatorship of Papa Doc Duvalier in 1963. He spent his youth listening to his parents and friends talking politics and nostalgically dreaming of the day they would return to Haiti. In 1980, the family moved to Miami, where they joined a community of exiles from all parts of Latin America-Cuba, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, El Salvador. Like other children of exiles, Diederich grew up without his relatives-grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts.

Diederich traveled repeatedly to Cuba as a photojournalist throughout the 1990s. He has an MFA in creative writing from the University of South Florida and lives in Florida. This is his first novel.
 
Web Analytics