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Rumba, Conga, Communism

Neal Ascherson, 4 October 1984

Family Portrait with Fidel 
by Carlos Franqui, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Cape, 262 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 224 02268 7
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Infante’s Inferno 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Suzanne Levine.
Faber, 410 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 571 13292 8
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... to make sense of this slogan during the Cuban revolution cost both these outstanding men – Franqui and Infante – their country. One of Fidel Castro’s closest comrades in the war against Batista, Carlos Franqui, came down with him from the Sierra as the bearded men took power; for the first five years after ...


Lorna Scott Fox, 24 November 1994

Mea Cuba 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Kenneth Hall.
Faber, 497 pp., £17.50, October 1994, 0 571 17255 5
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Before Night Falls 
by Reinaldo Arenas, translated by Dolores Koch.
Viking, 317 pp., £16, July 1994, 0 670 84078 5
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... is still Victor Serge’s novel, The Tulayev Affair, about the Moscow trials. More recently Carlos Franqui, Cabrera’s former boss at Lunes de Revolución, told his own story in Family Portrait with Fidel. But for all its essential rectifications, Mea Cuba is so overstated, so patently inflamed by spite and thwarted ambition, that it forfeits its ...

Spectacle of the Rats and Owls

Malcolm Deas, 2 June 1988

Against All Hope 
by Armando Valladares, translated by Andrew Harley.
Hamish Hamilton, 381 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 0 241 11806 9
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by Peter Bourne.
Macmillan, 332 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 333 44593 7
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Fidel: A Critical Portrait 
by Tad Szulc.
Hutchinson, 585 pp., £14.95, June 1987, 0 09 172602 6
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Castro and the Cuban Labour Movement: Statecraft and Society in a Revolutionary Period (1959-1961) 
by Efren Cordova.
University Press of America, 354 pp., £24.65, April 1988, 0 8191 5952 2
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Fidel and Religion: Castro talks on revolution and religion with Frei Betto 
translated by the Cuban Centre for Translation.
Simon and Schuster, 314 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 9780671641146
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... 1958 Castro stayed the night at the Oriente Sugar Mill, at Palma Soriano, near Santiago de Cuba. Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, the secretary-general of the Cuban Communist Party, was also in Palma Soriano; Castro was annoyed – ‘it was bad for his image’ – and would not receive him. A third visitor was Errol Flynn: perhaps at that juncture his contribution ...

Infante’s Inferno

G. Cabrera Infante, 18 November 1982

Legacies: Selected Poems 
by Heberto Padilla, translated by Alastair Reid and Andrew Hurley.
Faber, 179 pp., £8.75, September 1982, 0 374 18472 0
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... to go first to a cemetery in London. ‘Ah,’ he said. ‘You want me to go visit the tomb of Carlos Marx!’ ‘No,’ I told him. ‘I want you to see Mosiey’s tomb.’ ‘Mosley who?’ How could I explain? A throwback, an ancillary avatar, a freak of history – Oswald Mosley, the English Caudillo. Everything began to turn sour for us Cuban writers ...

The Ribs of Rosinante

Richard Gott, 21 August 1997

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life 
by Jon Lee Anderson.
Bantam, 814 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 593 03403 1
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Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara 
by Jorge Castañeda, translated by Marina Castañeda.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 7475 3334 2
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... the Latin American specialist at Chatham House. He thought it would be a suitable present for Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, the éminence grise of the Cuban Communist Party. Latin American Communists of that generation appreciated the finer things in life. Later I discovered that Pablo Neruda liked to receive homage in the shape of crates of whisky and tins ...

Bites from the Bearded Crocodile

G. Cabrera Infante, 4 June 1981

... and Alejandro Garcia Caturla, probably better composers than Brazil’s Villalobos and the Mexican Carlos Chavez. Both died too young to be known abroad, except in such recherché musical circles as the coterie around Nadia Boulanger in Paris or by John Cage’s epigoni everywhere. Roldan, also a remarkable conductor, died of a skin cancer in the face in his ...

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