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Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havanaby Isadora Tattlin
Synopses & Reviews
Isadora Tattlin is the American wife of a European energy consultant posted to Havana in the 1990s. Wisely, the witty Mrs. Tattlin began a diary the day her husband informed her of their new assignment. One of the first entries is her shopping list of things to take, including six gallons of shampoo. For although the Tattlins were provided with a wonderful, big house in Havana, complete with a staff of seven, there wasn't much else money could buy in a country whose shelves are nearly bare. The record of her daily life in Cuba raising her two small children, entertaining her husband's clients (among them Fidel Castro and his ministers and minions), and contending with chronic shortages of, well...everything (on the street, tourists are hounded not for money but for soap), is literally stunning.
Adventurous and intuitive, Tattlin squeezed every drop of juice — both tasty and repellent — from her experience. She traveled wherever she could (it's not easy — there are few road signs or appealing places to stay or eat). She befriended artists, attended concerts and plays. She gave dozens of parties, attended dozens more.
Cuba Diaries — vividly explicit, empathetic, often hilarious — takes the reader deep inside this island country only ninety miles from the U.S., where the average doctor's salary is eleven dollars a month. The reader comes away appalled by the deprivation and drawn by the romance of a weirdly nostalgic Cuba frozen in the 1950s.
"Her writing is clear and lively, her observances astute and witty....But over the course of the book, the people she meets are passive, showing no resistance to Tattlin's questions and curiosity. Readers might get the sense that Tattlin is meeting the same characters time after time." Publishers Weekly
"A sensitive fish-out-of-water narrative from a visitor to the dictatorship that history nearly forgot....Tattlin avoids the journal format's inherent solipsism, leaving even her often chilly marital relationship unexamined, and uses the form as a generous lens upon the Cuban people, convincing the reader that after four decades under Castro they deserve an opportunity for self-determination." Kirkus Reviews
"Unflinchingly documenting the wild beauty of the landscape, the incredible poverty of the general population, the essential futility of the governmental bureaucracy, and the charming affability of their many Cuban friends and neighbors, she provides an insider's glimpse into a country and a culture that has remained an enigma for the past 40 years." Booklist
What do you serve when Castro comes to dinner? Tattlin's firsthand account ofher immersion into Cuban life is uninhibited and revelatory. Nationalads.
About the Author
Isadora Tattlin was born and raised in California and spent her early adulthood in New York City. She is married to a European executive and lives now wherever his job takes them and their two young children.
Table of Contents
Introduction vii The First School Year 1 The Second School Year 61 The Third School Year 137 The Fourth School Year 201 Epilogue 297 Map of Cuba 299 Glossary 301 Principal Characters 305
The First School Year 1 The Second School Year 61 The Third School Year 137 The Fourth School Year 201 Epilogue 297 Map of Cuba 299 Glossary 301 Principal Characters 305
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