A journalist who covered Latin America takes a close look at the experiences of Cubans today, most of whom have spent their entire lives under the Castro regime and are hesitantly embracing the future. His subjects are the denizens of a neighborhood across the harbor from Old Havana, embodying in this microcosm the optimism as well as the enormous challenges that Cubans face.
... perceptive and keenly observant ... In his thoroughly researched and reported book, replete with human detail and probing insight, DePalma...renders a Cuba few tourists will ever see. He burrows deep into one enclave of Havana ... Although his is an admirable feat of journalism, a remarkably revealing glimpse into the world of a muzzled yet irrepressibly ebullient neighbor, a reader looking for delightfully original turns of phrase is not likely to find them here ... All the same, you won’t forget these people soon, and you are bound to emerge from DePalma’s bighearted account with a deeper understanding of a storied island. Devoid of bias or facile judgments, The Cubans is filled with a simple human tenderness that is rare in these politically charged times.
... DePalma vividly depicts the lives of several families in modern Cuba. DePalma’s writing is evocative and detailed, and the reader feels as though they are walking alongside the people whose aspirations and dreams he so poignantly highlights. The country comes alive with each sentence, and the end result is an homage to Cuba and the Cuban people that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.
... [a] remarkable book ... Mr. DePalma anchors all of the historical touchpoints in the powerful stories of the people we meet ... Some of the most harrowing stories take place during the so-called special period of the ’90s, when the Soviet Union fell and its subsidies to Cuba vanished ... Cary, Lili, Jorge, and the others have risked a great deal to share their stories. Flipping through the many dog-eared pages of my copy of this book, I wondered: What was in it for them? I decided, finally, that they simply wanted to be heard.