Of all the Marinuskas, I had the hardest time picking a book for Cuba. I ended up reading four books and picking Ruins by Achy Obejas. I do want to mention the other books I read though. Maybe not perfect for book club, but very good reads and they all give good insight into Cuba’s history. One of them was a short story collection by Achy Obejas called The Tower of the Antilles. I really love her writing. These are stories about a Cuban-American woman and focusing on the intersection of being from/of both places.
Before we decided to do a Cuba Marinuska, I read Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. It was one of Reese Witherspoon’s suggestions for Reese’s Book Club – Hello Sunshine. I will admit I almost didn’t read this book because of the cover! It makes it appear to be a fluffy book. Whatever that means. I’m glad I got past that. I happen to love historical fiction that flashes between past and present, as this book does. It has one story line set in 1958 Havana, telling the story of Elise and another story line set in 2017 Miami, following Elise’s grand-daughter Marisol. After Elise dies, Marisol goes to Havana to spread Elise’s ashes. While there she learns more about her grand-mother and Cuba and of course, meets a guy…as one does. The aspect I found most fascinating was the difference between the family members who stayed in Havana vs those who left to Miami, as well as the young Cuban folks’ feelings about Cuba vs the older Cuban folks’ feelings. There is also a sequel called When We Left Cuba I have not yet read.
I also read Havana Nocturn: How the Mob Owned Cuba…and Then Lost It to the Revolution by T.J. English as a potential book for Marinuska. This book is soooo juicy! The relationship between the mob and Batista…oh my. Scandalous. Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano were the masterminds behind the casinos and hotels the mob built in Havana. English also gives details on how Che Guevara and Fidel Castro started the Cuban revolution and pushed the mob out. I highly recommend!