Padma Viswanathan: The Last Book I Loved, Dancing With Cuba


51tj0a2hjfl_sl160_aa115_The most recent book I have loved–a term I apply only to those few books that get a place in my personal canon–was Alma Guillermoprieto’s Dancing With Cuba. Guillermoprieto’s books are great but few, so I saved this most recent one for years before reading it as slowly as I could. It’s the story of her strange sojourn, as a relatively apolitical young Mexican-American, in Cuba in 1970, when she taught at the National School of Dance. Guillermoprieto is abjectly honest (or gives that appearance) and turns clear eyes on herself, her companions and her host country, paralleling her inadequacies as a visitor and teacher with one of the early public failures of the Revolution, the zafra, an attempt at a 10 million ton harvest of sugar cane. Both she and the Revolution were young but would age fast that year, and the hindsight of forty years lets her write this aching, ugly yet beautiful, account.

Padma Viswanathan's most recent novel is The Ever After of Ashwin Rao. More at her website: WWW.PADMAVISWANATHAN.COM More from this author →