Books & Movies

There are few countries in the world that stand out for the unparalleled contribution to literature and film, especially in proportion to the geography and population.  Cuban talent abounds among the decades of talent that has been cultivated in Cuba, but also for the extraordinarily talented Cuban-American writers and filmmakers, as well as the dozens of authors, screenwriters, actors and directors from all over the world for whom Cuba has served as a backdrop, location and even a muse.  We recommend reading or seeing some of books and movies below, not only to learn about Cuba and gain a deeper understanding of the culture and the people of this unique and surprisingly educated  island nation, but for the sheer quality of the work.  Whatever the national origin might be, Cuban literature and film are outstanding, and critically acclaimed worldwide.  Cuban films have historically been awarded the highest honors from the industry including Golden Lions from Cannes, Sundance awards and even Oscar nominations. And the works inspired by Cuba are equally educational, informative and inspired such as Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”; Graham Greene’s  “Our Man in Havana”; Robert Redford’s film “Havana”, and dozens more. This year, HBO films released the documentary on Cuba’s premier singer/songwriter, Carlos Varela, “The Poet of Havana”, narrated by Benicio del Toro and Jackson Browne.

 

BOOKS

History and Information:

Selected Writings, by José Martí

The Cuban Revolution: Origins, Course, and Legacy. Marifeli Perez-Stable

Cuba: A Global Studies Handbook, by Ted Henken

Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Julia Sweig

Cuba, Or the Pursuit of Freedom, by Hugh Thomas

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, by Jon Lee Anderson

Dancing with Cuba: A Memoir of the Revolution, by Alma Guillermoprieto.

Havana Before Castro: When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground, by Peter Moruzzi

 

Non - Fiction:

Waiting for Snow in Havana, by Carlos Eire

Dancing with Cuba: A Memoir of the Revolution by Alma Guillermoprieto

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle

 

Fiction:

Telex From Cuba, by Rachel Kushner

Dirty Havana Trilogy, by Pedro Juan Gutiérrez

The Man Who Loved Dogs, by Leonardo Padura

The Kingdom of This World by Alejo Carpentier

Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas

Cecilia Valdés or El Angel Hill  by Cirilo Villaverde  

Biography of a Runaway Slave by Miguel Barnet

 

Poetry:

The Whole Island – Six Decades of Cuban Poetry (A Bilingual Anthology), ed.: Mark Weiss

Violet Island and Other Poems, by Reina María Rodríguez

The Bridges, by Fayad Jamís

Ismaelillo by Jose Marti

Man-making words; selected poems of Nicolas Guillen

Legacies: Selected Poems Paperback by Heberto Padilla

Muerte de Narciso by José Lezama Lima

Obras Escogidas of Dulce Maria Loynaz

Antologia Poetica by Fina Garcia Marruz

 

Photography and Art:

Alex Webb & Rebecca Norris Webb: Violet Isle

Jose A. Figueroa: A Cuban Self-Portrait

Walker Evans: Cuba

Rene Burri: Cuba y Cuba

Veigas-Zamora, Vives Gutierrez, Nodal, and Garzon: Memoria, Cuban Art of the 20th Century

 

Travelogue

Trading With the Enemy: A Yankee Travels through Castro’s Cuba, by Tom Miller

The Havana Guide: Modern Architecture 1925- 1965 by Eduardo Luis Rodríguez

Tropicana Nights, by Rosa Lowinger

Political:

The Boys From Dolores, by Patrick Symmes

Without Fidel, by Ann Louise Bardach

 

On-line

Harper’s Magazine October 2010: “Thirty Days as a Cuban”

The Economist Special Report on Cuba – March 24, 2012:

Nuestra América by José Martí

 

MOVIES

PM, 1961,  by Sabá Cabrera Infante, Orlando Jiménez Leal

The Twelve Chairs (Las doce sillas), 1962,  by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

I Am Cuba  (Soy Cuba), 1964,  by Mikhail Kalatozov

Death Of A Bureaucrat (La muerte de un burócrata), 1966,  by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias del subdesarrollo), 1968,  by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

One Way or Another (De Cierta Manera),1974, by Sara Gómez

The Last Supper (La última cena), 1976,  by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

Portrait of Teresa (Retrato de Teresa), 1979,  by Pastor Vega

Lucia, 1968, by Humberto Solas

Cecilia, 1981, by Humberto Solás

Se permuta, 1983, by Juan Carlos Tabío

A Girlfriend for David (Una novia para David), 1985, by Orlando Rojas

Vampires in Havana (Vampiros en La Habana), 1985, by Juan Padrón

Too Afraid of Life or Splat  (Plaff o demasiado miedo a la vida), 1988, by Juan Carlos Tabío

Papeles secundarios, 1989, by Orlando Rojas

The Beauty of the Alhambra (La bella del Alhambra),1989, by Enrique Pineda Barnet

Alice In Wondertown (Alicia en el pueblo de maravillas), 1990, by Daniel Díaz Torres

María Antonia, 1990,  by Sergio Giral

Fresa y chocolate, 1993, by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Juan Carlos Tabío

Madagascar, 1994, by Fernando Pérez

Guantanamera, 1995, by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

La vida es silbar, 1998, by Fernando Pérez

Video de familia, 2000, by Humberto Padrón

Lista de espera, 2000, by Juan Carlos Tabío

Nada, 2003, by Juan Carlos Cremata

Viva Cuba, 2005, by Juan Carlos Cremata

Habana Blues, by Benito Zambrano

Habanastation, 2011, by Ian Padrón

Conducta, 2014, by Ernesto Daranas

 

DOCUMENTARY FILMS

Unfinished Spaces by Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray.

Buena Vista Social Club by Wim  Wenders

Dance Cuba: Dreams of Flight by Cynthia Newport

Maestra by Catherine Murphy

The Poet of Havana by Ron Chapman

Suite Havana by Fernando Perez

Yank Tanks by David Schendel

Horizontes by Eileen Hofer

Now by  Santiago Álvarez

 

MUSIC

Cuban music cannot be explained. It has to be experienced. It has to be felt. The plethora of outstanding Cuban music from the late 19th century to present is too vast and diverse to list in one place.  We try to give a broad stroke overview so you can experience the musical body of work of this small country and the influence it has had on music from all over the world throughout the ages.  From the early origins of danceable afro-cuban rhythms to their incorporation in everything from son,  guaguanco, classical and jazz, Cuban music has influenced the greatest artists, composers and arrangers throughout history including Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole and Michel Legrand, to name a few.   In recent decades, the evolution of Cuban rock, hip hop and even reggaeton rivals that of any other latin american country and has influenced artists from the The Roots and Tego Calderon to Jackson Browne and The Black Eyed Peas.

 

Irakere: Misa negra

Chucho Valdés and Omara Portuondo: Danza ñañiga

Pablo Milanés & Silvio Rodríguez: El breve espacio en que no estás

Pablo Milanes: Yolanda

Silvio Rodriguez: El unicornio azul

Buenavista Social Club

Los Van Van: Sandunguera  

NG La Banda: Necesito una Amiga

La Charanga Habanera: La chica mas bella

Leo Brouwer: Un día de noviembre

Camerata Romeu: Camerata en Guaguanco

Frank Fernández: La comparsa

Santiago Feliu:  Ansias del alba

Carlos Varela: Muros y puertas

Kelvis Ochoa: A ella de duele

Descemer Bueno: El carro

David Torrens: El bufon y el tragico

Ernan Lopez Nussa: Fin del baile

Habana Abierta: Ahora si tengo la llave

Gema y Pavel: Parar de fumar

Orishas: A lo cubano

Raul Paz: El balcon

Gente de Zona: Traidora

Fernando Alvarez: Se feliz

Boris Larramendi: Siempre happy