I wrote a personal blog piece for GrubStreet’s “Immigrant Stories” series about my journey from Cuba to the person and writer I am today, titled:
I’m excited to be participating on the following panel:
The Emerson College WLP Department presents: Cuba and the Embattled Book: Examining censorship, the US embargo, and the future for writers and publishers.
DR. SARA E. COOPER, editor, Cubanabooks Press; professor, Spanish and Multicultural & Gender Studies, California State University, Chico.
KEN FUND, president and CEO, Quarto Publishing Group USA; member, February 2016 U.S. publishing mission to Cuba.
DARIEL SUAREZ, author; head of faculty and curriculum, GrubStreet.
Moderated by ALDEN JONES, author; WLP senior affiliate faculty member; co-founder, Cuba Writers Program.
Refreshments will be offered at 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Bright Family Screening Room
559 Washington Street, Boston
The wonderful editors at WBUR’s Cognoscenti recently published an opinion piece I wrote, from an immigrant’s perspective, about the importance of political fiction in America.
January 23, 2017
Really excited to be part of this panel at this year’s AWP Conference in Washington D.C.:
Beyond Diversity: How to Run the Truly Inclusive Creative Writing Workshop Day: Friday, 2/10/2017 Time: 04:30:PM– 05:45:PM Room: Capital & Congress, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four
Fidel Castro was a dictator. He got rid of the opposition, sometimes by murdering them; he imprisoned and tortured artists, political activists, gays, journalists; he persecuted and often forced into exile anyone who spoke against or criticized his regime; he kept his nation in poverty while proudly declaring how strong and free our system in Cuba was; he sold universal healthcare (people went blind in Cuba because of a lack of Vitamin A) and free education (communist indoctrination included) to the globe while providing some of lowest salaries in the world to Cuban workers (with market prices comparable to the U.S.), indirectly taxing them ridiculous rates; he refused to hold open democratic elections and did not allow for freedom of the press. He was, in short, an asshole of the highest order, and his death comes many years too late.
Sadly, this won’t bring immediate change to Cuba, though plenty of Miami Cubans will loudly celebrate it (and understandably so). What I have a hard time wrapping my head around is that so many of the people celebrating Castro’s death today actually voted for Trump (hence my very complicated relationship with Miami). Personally, I’m glad that those who suffered directly because of Castro have this moment of catharsis, if one can call it that. But looking ahead, I choose to do so with nuance, and as always, listening to the Cubans inside the island, most of whom I’m sure are also content today but unable to openly celebrate it, and aware that Fidel’s brother is the one in charge, and that asshole was still alive the last time I checked.
First, I’m happy to share the news that I’m GrubStreet‘s new Head of Faculty and Curriculum. I’ve been teaching fiction writing at this wonderful center for over a year, during which I’ve also participated in many of their events, led free workshops, and presented at their excellent conference, The Muse & the Marketplace. I’m very excited to be a part of the staff and help GrubStreet continue their exceptional work serving our diverse community of writers in Boston and beyond!
One of the amazing initiatives at GrubStreet is the Writers of Color Group. I attended my first meeting a little while back, and wrote a blog post sharing my experiences and explaining why it’s such an important project. This meeting focused on the topic of cultural appropriation, sparked in part by Lionel Shriver’s speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival.
In May of this year, Alina (my wife) and I made a 10-day trip to Cuba. It was the first time back for me after 18 years, and 12 for her. We stayed at the house where I grew up (we actually slept in what used to be my parents’ bedroom). As someone who writes about Cuba, this journey back was more than a personal reconnection with my native home, members of my family, and childhood friends. It was an opportunity to see, in real life, places that I remembered or had imagined while writing about them in my stories and novel.
Here are a few photos (from the hundreds!) we took while there.
El Capitolio and old cars: what most tourists get to see.
Cops harassing local vendors: what tourists don’t always see.
Teatro Mella: the setting for the opening of my novel.
Coppelia ice cream parlor: another setting in my novel.
View of El Vedado, el Malecon, and the U.S. embassy.
My best friend from my childhood took Alina and me on a ride around Havana in his Russian Jupiter motorcycle with sidecar. One of the coolest experiences we had.
Bumped into Ky-Mani Marley (one of Bob Marley’s sons) at a bar in Old Havana. We spoke briefly about our mutual love for the island and its people.
How so many people live just blocks away from the tourist areas.
Side street in Centro Habana, as viewed from El Paseo del Prado.
The sad state of the block where I grew up.
The Cuban countryside.
Havana’s budding restaurant industry (tostones rellenos and enchilado de cangrejo).
Remnants of the Soviet era. My dad used to drive one of these, assigned by his job, when I was growing up.
Alina and I on the famous steps at the University of Havana.
Having a complimentary drink at the restaurant where Obama ate during his visit.