Dreaming in Cuban

by Cristina García

Hardcover, 1992





New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1992.


A vivid and funny first novel about three generations of a Cuban family divided by conflicting loyalties over the Cuban revolution, set in the world of Havana in the 1970s and '80s and in an emigre neighborhood of Brooklyn. It is a story of immense charm about women and politics, women and witchcraft, women and their men.

User reviews

LibraryThing member cinesnail88
I enjoyed this book, though it wasn't quite as wonderful as I believe it could have been. The beginning was a bit disjointed and the timeline was sometimes hard to follow, and the end left me feeling...strange. It's a good little novel though, and I'd recommend it for a light summer read.
LibraryThing member elephant_issues
Dreaming in Cuban is beautifully written and skillfully delves into the lives of several family members who hold opposing ideas about the Cuban revolution. It focuses on four major characters: Celia del Pino, her daughter Felicia who still lives in Cuba, her daughter Lourdes who has emigrated to New York City, and Lourdes' own daughter, Pilar. The multigenerational aspect is one of the most touching things about it, in my opinion.

The problem for me was that the story didn't seem complete--I feel like we just barely skimmed the surface with these characters, sometimes going a little (or a lot) deeper, but only for a moment. The book is roughly 250 pages long, but for me, it wasn't enough to cover the story of four women from the 1930s to the 1980s, plus a handful of other relatives that get their own POV sections along the way. As it is, we get a lot of the characters' present-day emotions, but I would have loved to see more scenes actually played out rather than alluded to. There are gaps in the story between the years and the POV shifts, and I personally would have liked to see more of them filled in.

The other thing that I found a little frustrating with this book is that some of the metaphors and references the characters make didn't seem to make sense, even after I stopped to think about them and figure it out. There are some parts where characters suddenly realize something about the moon, etc., and how it relates to their present situation, but the reason for this is not clear at all to me. Sometimes this happens in fiction and I just go with it, but in this book, for some reason, it served to jolt me out of the narrative and ended up interrupting the flow.

With that said, there are many scenes that are very powerful and haunting, particularly in Celia's story. Cristina Garcia lets certain parts of the characters' pasts emerge slowly and reveals them at precisely the right time, which I love in a book.
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LibraryThing member Niecierpek
It’s a story of four women from a Cuban family divided by the revolution and political views. Two of the women- mother and daughter- live in New York City, and the grandmother and the other daughter in Cuba. Through their eyes, we see a whole spectrum of views and beliefs from staunch capitalism to equally firm communism, from atheism to Santeria. The plot revolves around the grandmother in Cuba and her teenage granddaughter in New York City, longing to see each other. As in a typical Latin American novel, there is a lot of magical realism and quite a bit of passion. The book has some great moments and presents a nice cut through the Cuban emigrant milieu as well as the remaining Cuban society, and provides what I think is a balanced view.… (more)
LibraryThing member NancyChase
Interesting Story, but a cumbersome read.

I found Dreaming in Cuban to be a cumbersome effort to read. Almost from the start I was beginning to lose track of the characters and I was beginning to think that I would need a score card to keep track of who was who. In this novel the author did create interesting scenes that centers around the Cuban family, and culture but there were so many loose ends when I finished reading the book that the overall story just didn't connect with me. It's not a terrible read, maybe just an entertaining story.… (more)
LibraryThing member bacteriaphage
It was kind of stressful reading this book. No one is happy with anyone for a long time and there are a lot of scary memories. But it was a good window into what it might be like to live in Cuba.
LibraryThing member mbergman
A novel about some characters who were Cuban or Cuban emigres that is not bad in any identifiable ways, but just didn't grab my interest, so I gave up on it.
LibraryThing member turtlesleap
Told from a half a dozen different viewpoints, shifting in time, this books is a challenge to read. The language is beautiful and sensual, the characters dysfunctional to a point often nearing insanity and the situations often improbable at best. For the first half of the book, I was enchanted, but my enjoyment of Garcia's language play palled and, for the second half, I was simply slogging through the pages, hoping to be done soon. This is one of those books that will be greatly loved by some readers. Sadly, I'm just not one of those.… (more)
LibraryThing member CocacolaGirl
Wonderful book. Very well written!
LibraryThing member acarritt
Dreaming in Cuba chronicles the lives of three generation of Cuban women in one family split between Cuba and the USA. Each of the main characters have significant emotional and psychological challenges and much of the book is spent exploring these and gradually revealing the problems that each has had to face in their life time. I thought this book was well written and the characters were engaging - especially Cecilia and Lourdes. However, I felt that the book failed to paint a picture of everyday Cuban life - perhaps because the writter has spent her adult life in the US. The descriptions of life in New York were on the whole more convincing. The author claims that the Cuban revolution is central to the book but this was not apparant to me. Two of the main characters do have very strong (fanatical) and irreconciable opinions about "el Lieder". However, aside from this, the book does not have a great deal to say about the revoluation and focusses more on the inner lives and losses of the main characters. The one Cuban issue which it does focus on in some details is the Santeria religion.… (more)
LibraryThing member DVerdecia
This novel moves between Cuba and the United States featuring three generations of a single family. The novel focuses particularly on the females—Celia del Pino, her daughters Lourdes and Felicia, and her granddaughter Pilar. While most of the novel is written in the third person, some sections are written in the first person, and letters are also included. The novel is not told in linear fashion; it moves between characters and jumps in time.
The novel’s central themes include family relationships, exile, the divisiveness of politics, and memory. Cuban history and culture are important in the novel, including important historical events and the elements of Santería that appear throughout the novel.

I enjoyed this novel because for me specifically, growing up Cuban, there were many things that were familiar in the telling of this story. What I didn't like about the book (and what I don't like about books that do this) is the flip flopping back and forth between both Characters and Time. I have difficulty reading stories like that.

That being said, this book is a worthy read.
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LibraryThing member catzkc
Beautifully written, if a bit heavy with the flowery and dreamy descriptions at times. But even those don't seem out of place when you're talking about that colorful, bright part of the world. I didn't feel this was so much a story about politics as it was a story about families and relationships within families: fathers and daughters; mothers and sons; daughters and mothers. About holding on to dreams, living out your passions. The context of the Cuban culture and revolution offers a unique, interesting and touching perspective. I didn't rate it higher because I was hoping for something a little more historical.… (more)
LibraryThing member LauraJWRyan
Dreaming in Cuban — what a colorful book, it is saturated with color — sunlight — life — it is a dream. I started reading this during the week my mother passed away, read it during the wee hours I spent at her bedside during that long vigil in the Comfort Room — this beautiful book carried me through the toughest two weeks of my life and I was sad to come to its end, but I’m happy to know that I can read it again at any time, even if I pick it up and open to a random page and read it for a few minutes, this is a book that is easy to become immersed into and fall in love with all over again. As with many beloved books on my bookshelves, there are several dog-eared pages to revisit — the language is supple and written so lovingly — it has a sorrow that can break your heart and make it sing with joy at the same time. A classic beauty.… (more)
LibraryThing member astrologerjenny
I really like this book. It’s about culture shock and cultural assimilation, and about the connections between people in different times and places. There are some especially great older characters.



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