Reading groups or book clubs have been around for a long time but they seem to have come back into fashion again in the past few years - at least in Australia, although I suspect this may be the case elsewhere. You can thank Oprah for this ...
Of course, publishers love reading groups. Not only are they made up of people who read and BUY books (that's always good), but members of reading groups are just as likely to read and/or recommend old books as they are new releases. They don't discriminate. That is why my publishers, Allen & Unwin, like publishers elsewhere, are very fond of reading groups. On their website, they have a whole section devoted to such groups, providing readers with notes about selected books, interviews with authors, sample questions and suggestions for further reading. It's all very nifty.
I know all this because Child of the Revolution has been picked by Allen & Unwin as one of the books suitable for such treatment, which I think is good news. So, if you click here, you will be able to dowload a stack of material related to the book.
In helping put this material together, I was asked to recommend other English-language books on Cuba suitable for further reading. A tough question because when you think about it, there are hundreds if not thousands of books out there on Cuba, especially history books and polemics about the Castro regime. Where do you start? And how do you deal with the inevitable bias of some of the books on offer? Anyway, here is my (very limited) selection of books about Cuba (or by Cubans) that I would recommend to someone who knows precious little about the island - and why I chose them. It's not a definite list by any means, but it's a start. I'd be interested in your own list ...
Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom; Hugh Thomas
The most complete English language history of Cuba. Lots of words but worth the effort.
Fidel: A Critical Portrait; Tad Szulc
One of many good biographies of Castro (most by American writers), this is probably the most comprehensive to date.
The Cuba Reader: History, Culture and Politics; edited by Aviva Chomsky
Comprehensive anthology, with a lean all the way to the Left.
Fidel: Hollywood’s Favourite Tyrant; Humberto Fontova
Another take on Castro and his Revolution, and why some Hollywood heavyweights would be better off sticking to film-making rather than politics.
Cuban Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana; Isadora Tattlin
How the vast majority of Cubans cope with communism on a daily basis today, as seen by an American resident.
Three Trapped Tigers; Guillermo Cabrera Infante
The great masterpiece of the late Cabrera Infante, the exiled Cuban novelist. Set in Havana just before the Revolution.
Dreaming in Cuban; Cristina Garcia
One take on the exile experience.
In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd; Ana Menendez
Another take on the Cuban exile experience.
Dirty Havana Trilogy; Pedro Juan Gutierrez
Sex-soaked, rum-fuelled machismo fiction set during the “special period” in the early 90s. By a Havana writer whose work is barely tolerated – and rarely published - inside Cuba.
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love; Oscar Hijuelos
Entertaining yet moving novel about Cuban musicians in New York in the 1950s. A great read.