Showing posts with label cuba. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cuba. Show all posts

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.

Friday, October 11, 2013

#FridayReads: Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town By Mirta Ojito

Library Reads describes Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town By Mirta Ojito, as a book which, "chronicles the events leading up to the 2008 murder of an undocumented Ecuadorian immigrant on Long Island, detailing the reactions of family and community members, government officials, civic leaders and public library staff. A nuanced and in-depth look at hate crimes, and a powerful story that deserves to be told.”

The true story of an immigrant's murder that turned a quaint village on the Long Island shore into ground zero in the war on immigration 

In November 2008, Marcelo Lucero, a thirty-seven-year-old undocumented Ecuadorean immigrant, was attacked and murdered by a group of teenagers as he walked the streets of the Long Island village of Patchogue accompanied by a childhood friend. The attackers were out “hunting for beaners.” Chasing, harassing, and assaulting defenseless “beaners”—their slur for Latinos—was part of their weekly entertainment, some of the teenagers later confessed. Latinos—primarily men and not all of them immigrants—have become the target of hate crimes in recent years as the nation wrestles with swelling numbers of undocumented immigrants, the suburbs become the newcomers’ first destination, and public figures advance their careers by spewing anti-immigration rhetoric. 

Lucero, an unassuming worker at a dry cleaner’s, became yet another victim of anti-immigration fever. In the wake of his death, Patchogue was catapulted into the national limelight as this formerly unremarkable suburb of New York became ground zero in the war on immigration. In death, Lucero became a symbol of everything that was wrong with our broken immigration system: fewer opportunities to obtain visas to travel to the United States, porous borders, a growing dependency on cheap labor, and the rise of bigotry. 

Drawing on firsthand interviews and on-the-ground reporting, journalist Mirta Ojito has crafted an unflinching portrait of one community struggling to reconcile the hate and fear underlying the idyllic veneer of their all-American town. With a strong commitment to telling all sides of the story, Ojito unravels the engrossing narrative with objectivity and insight, providing an invaluable look at one of America’s most pressing issues. 

Mirta "Ojito has received several awards, including the American Society of Newspaper Editor's writing award for best foreign reporting in 1999 for her stories about life in Cuba, and a shared Pulitzer for national reporting in 2001 for a New York Times series about race in America. She is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University and of the mid-career master's degree program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she now works as a full time assistant professor. You can tweet her @MirtaOjito

Start reading!

Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Book List: What you should read this summer

No matter your preference, here is a summer reading list to whet every bookish apetite:

The House of Impossible Loves By Cristina Lopez Barrio
An “exuberant” debut novel of a family bound by searing passions, an earthy magic, and a very unusual curse

Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail by Rubén Martínez 
Hailed as "valuable," "passionate," and "terrific," Crossing Over puts a human face on the phenomenon of Mexican immigration and the vibrant Latino culture it introduces to the U.S., and remains a beautifully written classic of our time.

The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You by Jessica Alba 
The Honest Life recounts Alba’s personal journey of discovery and reveals her tips for making healthy living fun, real, and stylish, while offering a candid look inside her home and daily life.

King of Cuba: A Novel by Cristina Garcia
Vivid and alive, Cristina García’s new novel transports readers to Cuba, to Miami, and into the heads of two larger-than-life men—a fictionalized Fidel Castro and an octogenarian Cuban exile obsessed with seeking revenge against the dictator.

A Crack in the Wall By Claudia Pineiro
Claudia Piñeiro once again demonstrates her capacity to reveal the things hidden behind the facades of our existence; human relationships based on habit and cowardice, rather than love; on excessive ambition and personal gain, rather than morality.

Soccer in Sun and Shadow By Eduardo Galeano 
Soccer is a game that bureaucrats try to dull and the powerful try to manipulate, but it retains its magic because it remains a bewitching game—“a feast for the eyes ... and a joy for the body that plays it”—exquisitely rendered in the magical stories of Soccer in Sun and Shadow.

Barbecued Husbands: And Other Stories From The Amazon By Betty Mindlin 
Reading like a novel, this is an oral history suffused with magic realism.The stories recounted in Barbecued Husbands are as old as humanity: love and hate, jealousy and revenge, life after death, totems and taboos, erotic solitude, romantic love, mothers and daughters, masculinity.

Tattoo By Manuel Vazquez Montalban 
In a Spain still stifled under the rule of Franco, former CIA operative--and former Commnist--Pepe Carvalho has become so cynical he seems to care about nothing except food and sex. He's even taken to burning the occasional book in his Barcelona apartment, just so he can have a fire going in the fireplace when he eats some bacalhao. But when he sees the cops bungling a case he's hired to investigate--that of a body pulled out of the sea--he's roused by a sense of injustice.

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese By Michael Paterniti
A moving exploration of happiness, friendship, and betrayal, The Telling Room introduces us to Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras, an unforgettable real-life literary hero, while also holding a mirror up to the world, fully alive to the power of stories that define and sustain us.

Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths about Human Nature By Agustín Fuentes
Presenting scientific evidence from diverse fields, including anthropology, biology, and psychology, Fuentes devises a myth-busting toolkit to dismantle persistent fallacies about the validity of biological races, the innateness of aggression and violence, and the nature of monogamy and differences between the sexes.

Shut Up, You're Welcome: Thoughts on Life, Death, and Other Inconveniences By Annie Choi 
Each of Choi’s personal essays begins with an open letter to someone (babies) or something (the San Fernando Valley) she has a beef with.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Giveaway: The Death of Fidel Perez

Here's your exclusive chance to win a copy of The Death of Fidel Perez by Elizabeth Huergo, courtesy of Unbridled Books. Enter below! May the odds be ever in your favor.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Publication Date: April 2, 2013

On July 26, 2003, the 50th anniversary of the Moncada Army Barracks raid that sparked the Cuban revolution, something unexpected happens. When Fidel Pérez and his brother accidentally tumble to their deaths from their Havana balcony, the neighbors' outcry, "Fidel has fallen!" is misinterpreted by those who hear it. That wishful mistake quickly ripples outward on the running cries of the people, and it gloriously reawakens a suppressed city.

Three Habaneros in particular are affected by the news: an elderly street visionary named Saturnina, the remorseful Professor Pedro Valle, and his impressionable firebrand of a student, Camilo. All three are haunted by the past and now, once again, are made to confront a new future, perhaps another revolution.

Their stories--so real, distressing and insuppressible--are beautifully braided into new hope as they converge in the frantic crowd that gathers in La Plaza de la Revolución.

Elizabeth Huergo was born in Havana and immigrated to the United States at an early age as a political refugee. A published poet and story writer, she lives in Virginia. The Death of Fidel Perez is her first novel.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Book: Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy

Thursday, March 19, 2009

US & Cuba Project Saves Rare Hemingway Papers Digitally

I saw this yesterday and wanted to pass it along:

"An important collection of papers belonging to the American writer Ernest Hemingway has been saved for posterity, thanks to a unique joint rescue mission involving communist Cuba and the United States....

Phase one is now complete - 3,197 pages of documents have been restored and then scanned on to digital archives."

A look inside Ernest Hemingway's Cuban home

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Margarita Engle, first Latina recipient of the Newbery Award

Great interview:

Guanabee Interviews Margarita Engle, Newbery Award-Winning Author Of The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom.

Margarita Engle is also the 2009 winner of the Pura Belpré Author Award, which honors Latino authors whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books.

Congrats, Margarita!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May Mélange
- Simon & Schuster has teamed with the Internet video company TurnHere Inc. to launch a "book-centric video channel" that will promote S&S authors and their new books. will begin in early June, and the videos will also be available at, YouTube and the authors' own Web sites. Though S&S has produced videos to promote its authors in the past, the venture with TurnHere represents a stronger and more formal commitment to using video to market authors. S&S will create videos for at least 40 authors, including Mary Higgins Clark, Kathy Reichs, Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz, Jennifer Weiner and Zane.
Read more here:

English-only Sparks Lawsuits
- U.S. companies that require employees to speak only English on the job have sparked lawsuits alleging discrimination against immigrants.
Read more here:

TV for US
- L.A.-based television networks take aim at bilingual, bicultural young Latinos. "Young Hispanics in America today are proud to be American," says Michael Schwimmer, CEO of Sí TV, "but at the same time there are very strong ties to their parents' and their grandparents' heritage."
Read more here:

HBO Yanks De La Hoya/Mayweather Fight Off Youtube
- HBO has requested that YouTube pull down footage of Saturday night's championship boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya, according to a Los Angeles Times report on Tuesday. A YouTube user had uploaded the broadcast from Las Vegas, originally shown live on HBO's pay-per-view channel, in a relatively high-quality format later that weekend. That was understandably problematic for HBO, which plans to show a rebroadcast of the match this coming Saturday.The video was removed from the legally embattled YouTube around 4 p.m. PDT on Monday, replaced with a notice that it had been pulled "due to a copyright complaint from Home Box Office Inc."

Mayweather Patronizes De La Hoya's Mexican Heritage
- The Hispanic community has been eerily silent on Floyd Mayweather's patronizing sombrero act after barely defeating De La Hoya on Saturday. Has no one seen this?

Lou Dobbs: Hispanic Journalist?
- On other demeaning news: According to, Lou Dobbs, is now a lifetime member of the Hispanic Journalists Association. After you have a WTF? moment, you can read more here:

Book Swap
- 22 ways to swap your CDs, DVDs, Games, Books, Lease, Contract, and Money from StartupSquad.

- Orli from sends us: to check out! LibriVox Objective's is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet. When was the last time someone read YOU a book?

Broken Paradise
- And, lastly I can't remember if I mentioned this before but... A New Historical (Cuban) Novel, Broken Paradise: A Novel by Cecilia Samartin, Has Hit Bookstores
Read more here:

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Latino Films this Weekend

In the Pit aka En el hoyo


Literally and existentially down and dirty, “In the Pit” is an absorbing documentary about work and the transformation of men into laborers. Directed and shot with sensitive attention to detail by Juan Carlos Rulfo, the film takes us into a world apart, populated by members of the construction crew building the second deck of the Periférico beltway in Mexico City. For the city’s inhabitants, each of whom apparently spend an estimated 1,485 hours a year commuting, and mostly on public transportation, the construction is at once a nuisance and a possible solution.

For the most part, like construction sites everywhere, it is also hidden in plain sight. Mr. Rulfo takes a distinctly personal approach to his subject, eschewing issues of public policy, environmental impact or even much by way of factual information or history about the beltway. — Manohla Dargis , The New York Times


East of Havana


So much of American pop thrives on a bratty facsimile of courage that when you see the real deal, it's a revelation. "East of Havana" is the real deal. Directed by Jauretsi Saizarbitoria and Emilia Menocal, it's a nonfiction feature about young Cuban rappers exercising the artist's prerogative to tell the truth in a country that muzzles free speech.

Although the film is set in 2004 during the weeklong run-up to the International Festival of Rap Cubano and in the shadow of Hurricane Charley, there's no phony urgency. The filmmakers are mainly interested in hearing the music and learning about the musicians' compelling personal stories. — Matt Zoller Seitz, The New York Times

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