Few countries seem as alluring as the island nation of Cuba, a country seemingly trapped in time. Antique cars and a country trapped in the 1950s characterise this Caribbean nation, but that will undoubtedly change following the reestablishment last year of relationships between the US and Cuba.
Havana, Cuba’s capital and a city of tropical heat, sweat, ramshackle beauty, and its very own cadence is brought to pulsing life in a new book by New York Times bestselling author Mark Kurlansky.
Kurlansky presents an insider’s view of Havana: the elegant, tattered city he has come to know over more than thirty years. Part cultural history, part travelogue, with recipes, historic engravings, photographs, and Kurlansky’s own pen-and-ink drawings throughout, Havana celebrates the city’s singular music, literature, baseball, and food; its five centuries of outstanding, neglected architecture; and its extraordinary blend of cultures.
Like all great cities, Havana has a rich history that informs the vibrant place it is today–from the native Taino to Columbus’s landing, from Cuba’s status as a U.S. protectorate to Batista’s dictatorship and Castro’s revolution, from Soviet presence to the welcoming of capitalist tourism. Havana is a place of extremes: a beautifully restored colonial city whose cobblestone streets pass through areas that have not been painted or repaired since long before the revolution.
Kurlansky shows Havana through the eyes of Cuban writers, such as Alejo Carpentier and José Martí, and foreigners, including Graham Greene and Hemingway. He introduces us to Cuban baseball and its highly opinionated fans; the city’s music scene, alive with the rhythm of Son; its culinary legacy. Through Mark Kurlansky’s multilayered and electrifying portrait, the long-elusive city of Havana comes stirringly to life.
Whether you’re an armchair traveller or planning a trip to Cuba, Havana is an excellent portrait of this charming and intriguing city.