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The Tower of the Antilles, by Achy Obejas

October 9, 2017

tower of the Antilles
The Tower of the Antilles,
by Achy Obejas
Brooklyn: Akashic Books, 2017.  Forthcoming.

3 stars

An intense and sensual collection of short stories about Cubans and Cuban Americans by a woman who has lived her own version of that narrative.

Achy Obejas was born in Cuba in 1956.  When she was six she came with her parents to Indiana where she grew up. She lived there long enough to realize that her lesbianism was viewed negatively.  She worked in Chicago as a journalist and now lives in Oakland, California, where she currently teaches creative writing at Mills College as a Distinguished Visiting Writer.  She has previously published award-winning poetry and stories. Her writing has focused on her sexuality and her Cuban identity.  In an interview she stated that she is “interested in both Cuba as a real place and as a kind of metaphor for power and for powerlessness, for private and public identity.”  She says that, while Americans tend to think about their own agency, Cubans are more likely to attribute events to fate or to God.  Such ideas shape her writing.

The actual stories in this collection include some  centering on Cuba itself and others featuring Cuban Americans.  The characters and their actions seemed strange to me.  Sexuality for both lesbians and gay men is described very explicitly.

This is probably a book that other readers will like more than I did, but that says more about me than her writing ability.

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