Miami and the Generation of Cuban American Writing
This chapter argues that Cuban American writers constitute an important component of the literature of the U.S. South, and that their narratives demonstrate strong influences from both Floridian and Southern culture. An initial section concentrates on the long history of the relations between Cuba and the South, noting that there was a constant interplay between Havana and St. Augustine in the early days of colonization, then between the island and Tampa, and in the twentieth century, Havana and Miami. The discussion employs works by Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Virgil Suarez, Roberto Fernández, Cristina García and Ana Menéndez, who all began writing after the Cuban Revolution. Their non-fiction, memoirs, novels and short stories provide compelling examples of differing views of the homeland, exile, acculturation, and the ways in which Cuban narratives parallel enduring Southern themes, such as defeat, family, religion, and racial conundrums. The Afro-Cuban religion Santería plays a key role here, alongside shifting concepts of gender, social hierarchy, and responses to urbanization, consumer capitalism, and industrialization. Major emphasis is placed on García’s The Agüero Sisters, which concerns pre- and post-revolutionary Cuba, links between the personal and the political, and the loss of tropical flora and fauna in both countries.
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