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At Tranquilina’s Knee

G. Cabrera Infante, 2 June 1983

The Fragrance of Guava: Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza in conversation with Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
translated by Ann Wright.
Verso, 126 pp., £9.95, May 1983, 0 86091 065 2
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... the august Academicians, he could ‘believe anything’. Of course. But he didn’t have to go all the way to Sweden in winter to prove it. In a continuation of his celebration and jubilation by other means (and another column) Garcia Marquez told how Sylvia, Queen of the Swedes, danced the cumbia with the author during the Academy Awards evening. In ...

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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... by totalitarian regimes, who know their worth in propaganda) belongs to the State Security or the G2, or must obtain clearance to entertain any alien visitors. Foreign Affairs officials, functionaries from the Tourist Commission and the junior executives of the Writers Union who bid you welcome at the airport, and bid you goodbye as well, all wear crocodile ...

Bites from the Bearded Crocodile

G. Cabrera Infante, 4 June 1981

... countries cannot afford their existence. Writers in Czechoslovakia comply with Communist dicta or go to gaol directly. Where are the dissidents in Albania? Nowhere, of course, Cuba, sad to say, has become a Latin American Albania, a deadly oxymoron. But few foreigners know this. Political hell is paved with the ignorance of strangers. The Holocaust was fully ...

Cuban Heels with Twisting Tongues

Salman Rushdie, 4 June 1981

Three Trapped Tigers 
by G. Cabrera Infante.
Picador, 487 pp., £2.95, August 1980, 0 330 26133 9
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... whose Mondays its title salutes. Lunes’ editor is a 32-year-old writer named Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and the director of the film is his brother, Saba Cabrera. Time-dissolve: four years pass. In 1965, Cabrera Infante, now Cuban Cultural Attaché in Belgium, is ...

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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... 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 1959 he was, more than any other single ...


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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... there were dozens of Cuban artists in Mexico, enjoying the Velvet Exile. They could come and go from Cuba, eat their fill, lose money and innocence at capitalist roulette; but they still had to watch what they said. This began to seem like the worst of both worlds, and before long they all leapt off the Mexican trampoline into the great beyond. Until ...


Stephen Smith: Stephen Smith goes to Cuba and tries to get his books out of the library, 24 November 1994

... a single strip light, a stopped clock, a thrashed fan – I ask if they have anything by G. Cabrera Infante. The Cuban novelist was expelled from his country’s writers’ union in 1968, by which time he had already spent three years in exile. He has vehemently rehearsed exactly how underground his books are in his native land in a new collection ...

Read, rattle and roll

Malcolm Deas, 6 February 1986

Holy Smoke 
by G. Cabrera Infante.
Faber, 329 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 571 13518 8
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Tobacco on the Periphery. A Case Study in Cuban Labour History: 1860-1958 
by Jean Stubbs.
Cambridge, 203 pp., £25, April 1985, 9780521254236
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... in smoking beards and both smoking foul, fat cigars. These, gentlemen, were no gentlemen. G. Cabrera Infante, Holy Smoke Cabrera Infante’s book is the work of a learned and well-read Cuban cigar-smoker, film-goer, wit, novelist and master of free association. He has lived in London since 1966 and here ...

The Good Parasite

Lorna Scott Fox: Who was Calvert Casey?, 1 April 1999

The Collected Stories 
by Calvert Casey.
Duke, 224 pp., £11.50, May 1998, 0 8223 2165 3
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... or Cuban, it’s the same ... The only certainty is that he was a writer.’ This is how Guillermo Cabrera Infante, who knew him as well as anyone did, got around the vagueness that still surrounds the early life of Calvert Casey, the cult author of 17 stories, a handful of critical articles and a poem. There has been little research on his life or the ...

Little Viper

Lorna Scott Fox: Mario Vargas Llosa, 17 September 1998

TheNotebooks of Don Rigoberto 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Edith Grossman.
Faber, 259 pp., £15.99, July 1998, 0 571 19309 9
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... that, except for Cortázar, they so effectively ploughed into literature. The withdrawn Guillermo Cabrera Infante feels persecuted for his anti-Castroism, a victim of liberal consensus. His great novel about life under Batista, Three Trapped Tigers, had innocently looked forward to a dramatic political change, and it is ironic that a recent issue of Time ...

Wasps and all

Philip Horne, 8 December 1988

A Chinese Summer 
by Mark Illis.
Bloomsbury, 135 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0257 9
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Three Uneasy Pieces 
by Patrick White.
Cape, 59 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 224 02594 5
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The Captain and the Enemy 
by Graham Greene.
Reinhardt, 189 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 1 871061 05 9
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View of Dawn in the Tropics 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine.
Faber, 163 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 571 15186 8
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The House of Stairs 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 282 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 670 82414 3
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... View of Dawn in the Tropics is a translation, supervised by the author, of a work written by G. Cabrera Infante in 1974, and constituting a passionate and sardonically selective history of Cuba in 117 vignettes of its oppressors and martyrs. After one bloody revolutionary fiasco, he remarks that ‘you couldn’t spell it out in so many words then ...

Pooh to London

Pat Rogers, 22 December 1983

The Other Side of the Fire 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 7156 1809 1
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London Tales 
edited by Julian Evans.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 241 11123 4
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by Maureen Duffy.
Methuen, 240 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 413 49350 4
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Good Friends, Just 
by Anne Leaton.
Chatto, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2710 4
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... with her stepson Philip: ‘She wished passionately that she could be the author of her own life, go back fifteen years and cross out Charles. No, not cross him out; she was very fond of Charles; just marry his son instead of him.’ Sylvie has a ‘marvellously simple’ cure for love, which requires only the realisation that ‘you can have anything you ...

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