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Telex from Cubaby Rachel Kushner
Synopses & Reviews
Now in paperback, one of the most celebrated debut novels of 2008, a vivid portrait of the American communities in pre-Castro Cuba is “a pure treat from the cover to the very last page…. a world we’ll never see again” (The Washington Post Book World).
“ W onderful reviews are coming thick and fast…and they’re more than well deserved,” declared The Washington Post Book World of Rachel Kushner’s brilliant debut, about the Americans who were driven out of Cuba in 1958. Telex from Cuba’s “pre- cisely drawn characters and sharp detail…offer a compelling look at a paradise corrupted” (People) and “an inevitable, ineffable poignancy"
Everly Lederer and K.C. Stites come of age in Oriente Province, where the Americans tend 300,000 acres of United Fruit Company sugar- cane, which surrounds their gated enclave. The rural tropics are a child’s paradise, yet Everly and K.C. have keen eyes for the indulgences and betrayals of the grown-ups around them—the excessive drinking and illicit loves, the race hier- archies and simmering violence.
When Fidel and RaÚl Castro lead a revolt from the mountains above the cane plantation, torch- ing the sugar and kidnapping a boat full of “yan- qui” revelers, K.C. and Everly begin to discover the brutality that keeps the colony humming. If their parents remain blissfully untouched by the forces of history, the children hear the whispers of what is to come.
“Lush, meticulous, and cinematic” (Elle), Kushner’s novel is a tour de force, with the urgency of a telex from a forgotten time and place.
Rachel Kushner has written an astonishingly wise, ambitious, and riveting novel set in the American community in Cuba during the years leading up to Castro's revolution—a place that was a paradise for a time and for a few. The first novel to tell the story of the Americans who were driven out in 1958, this is a masterful debut.
Young Everly Lederer and K.C. Stites come of age in Oriente Province, where the Americans tend their own fiefdom—three hundred thousand acres of United Fruit Company sugarcane that surround their gated enclave. If the rural tropics are a child’s dreamworld, Everly and K.C. nevertheless have keen eyes for the indulgences and betrayals of the grown-ups around them—the mordant drinking and illicit loves, the race hierarchies and violence.
In Havana, a thousand kilometers and a world away from the American colony, a cabaret dancer meets a French agitator named Christian de La Mazière, whose seductive demeanor can't mask his shameful past. Together they become enmeshed in the brewing political underground. When Fidel and Raúl Castro lead a revolt from the mountains above the cane plantation, torching the sugar and kidnapping a boat full of “yanqui” revelers, K.C. and Everly begin to discover the brutality that keeps the colony humming. Though their parents remain blissfully untouched by the forces of history, the children hear the whispers of what is to come.
At the time, urgent news was conveyed by telex. Kushner's first novel is a tour de force, haunting and compelling, with the urgency of a telex from a forgotten time and place.
About the Author
Rachel Kushner is a coeditor of the art and literary journal Soft Targets and a frequent contributor to Artforum. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University’s MFA program in writing, she has worked as an editor at both Bomb and Grand Street magazines. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
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