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The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cubaby Julia Cooke
Julia Cooke's fascinating The Other Side of Paradise is a sobering read, but it is also deeply sympathetic and remarkably apolitical. Cooke offers detailed portraits of everyday lives, as well as of her own experiences living in Havana, and allows the reader to develop his own opinions of the Castro brothers' regimes and American–Cuban relations.
Synopses & Reviews
Over a period of five years, beginning when Fidel Castro stepped down from his presidency after almost a half-century of reign, journalist Julia Cooke embedded herself in Cuba, gaining access to a dynamic Havana — one that she found populated with twenty-five-year-old Marxist philosophy students, baby-faced anarchists, children of the whiskey-drinking elite, Santería trainees, pregnant prostitutes, and more.
Combining intimate storytelling with in-depth reportage, The Other Side of Paradise weaves together stories of the Cubans whom Cooke encountered, providing a vivid and unprecedented look into the daily lives and future prospects of young people in Cuba today. From ambitious Lucía — a recent university graduate with an acerbic sense of humor and plans to leave Cuba for the first country to give her a visa, if she can just get the roadblocks out of the way — to a crew of mohawk-wearing teenage anarchists who toss bricks at police cars and cite lyrics by The Clash (but don't know the lead singer's name), the characters of The Other Side of Paradise paint a captivating portrait of Cuban culture and the emerging legacy of Fidel Castro's failed promises.
Eye-opening and politically prescient, The Other Side of Paradise is sure to linger in readers minds long after they've finished reading.
"This irresistible gander at Cuba today features the liveliest prose and the sharpest eye for detail. The contradictions and improvisatory adjustments within this strange society are brought home through a series of vital portraits by the author, Julia Cooke, whose sympathy never gets in the way of her search for the elusive truth." Phillip Lopate
About the Author
Julia Cooke is a freelance journalist and teacher who has lived in and reported from Mexico City and Havana. She has received fellowships from the Norman Mailer Center and Columbia University, where she completed her master of fine arts in creative nonfiction writing. Her essays about Cuba have been published in Conde Nast Traveller, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Best Women's Travel Writing anthology, among numerous newspapers and magazines. She is fluent in Spanish.
Cooke grew up in Portland, Oregon, and now lives in New York City, where she writes and teaches at the New School. The Other Side of Paradise is her first book.
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