Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Robert Arellano's Havana Lunar

I read Robert Arellano's Havana Lunar, another example of a growing number of novels dealing with Cuba's Special Period. As such, it is all gritty realism as the characters try to sort themselves out in the face of deprivation and uncertainty. The main character, Mano, even talks to his Che Guevara poster, hoping for answers. And, similar to Achy Abejas' Ruins, the novel uses a hurricane as a symbol of violent cleansing.

The plot revolves around Mano, a clinic doctor, who does what he can to help a jinetera, Cuban slang for a sex worker. He has his own personal baggage, including an ex-wife who left him to do revolutionary work abroad and a hemorrhage under his right eye, which became known as a "Havana Lunar." Some of the more compelling parts of the novel involve Mano's confrontations with her pimp, who blames him for her newly acquired independent streak.

Mano shows a curious combination of resignation and action. He does not feel he can change his life much, and is constantly dealing with shortages of various kinds (including in the clinic) but he perseveres even if it puts him at risk. He is also faced with the shadowy National Revolutionary Police and the political elites who have access to luxury goods, but he simply pushes ahead, trying to do what he believes is right.


leftside 5:00 PM  

Arellano explained the book this way:

"People all over the world are realizing that we are headed for a global ‘special period,’" he says. "We have something to learn about the Cuban sentido de resolver [sense of solving]."

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