View of dawn in the Tropics by G. Cabrera Infante

View of dawn in the Tropics by G Cabrera Infante

Cuban Fiction

Translated by Suzanne Jill Levine

Guillermo Cabrera Infante is probably the find of this reader ever since I read three trapped tigers .I d been wanting to try another of his books .He grew up in cuba his parents were militant communists and when he was seven spent time in prison on the canary islands they returned to Havana when he was 12 .He started writing in the fifties and fell foul of the Batista regime being censored ,He initially supported the Castro regime and was appointed to the national council of culture when Castro came to power ,but was later a critic of the regime and was sent to Belgium by castro then via spain finally settled in Exile in London .So to view of dawn in the tropics which was another Sheffield find from a couple of months ago .

The island came out of the sea like a venus land :out of the foam constantly beautiful .But there were more islands .in the beginning they were solitary islands .

The opening of View of ..

So view dawn in the tropics is an experimental novel ,a collection of roughly a hundred pen picture or vignettes which ever takes your fancy .These little gems tell the story of his homeland Cuba from the first Time the Spanish reached it in 1492 ,through the death of the native Indian tribes ,the slave trade ,uprisings of  the slaves . the war with America ,The cuban Jazz age ,the Batista regime and the finally the Castro led revolution ..So we see the Tobacco trade and haunting snippets of how the white owners treated the Black slaves when they tried a mutiny by hang corpses from trees as a warning to all the over slaves not to revolt .Then we later see the black dandy’s dressed in all there splendour in the 1930 as the Jazz age and america’s influence gripped the island some these little snippets remind me of Infante’s other book three trapped tigers that is set during the same  time and had a real Cuban jazz  beat to its writing .Then first the hope of Castro  coming to power and then the despair of castro .

Dawn came as always .The moon was hidden early and venus first became more luminous and then paler,fainter.The land breeze had stopped .but it was cooler than it had been at sunset.

I choose this as it echo the opening and came nearer the end of the book .

This book is a classic piece of modernist experimental  fiction ,hard to call a novel not a history really ,I feel maybe as I know he was a fan of Joyce (he translated Dubliners into Spanish )it maybe owes something to Ulysses as this is a collection of micro episodes like Ulysses is .Two other books that  I was reminded of was Gunter Grass my century, that I feel is influenced by  this  book as grass told german history in the twentieth century also through  a hundred vignettes   by Grass .The other  book I was reminded of mainly because I’d  read it earlier this month is HHHH by Laurent Binet  another book that style wise use small vignettes but not with the power of the writing  Infante does in view of  .I find it hard to believe this guy isn’t better known  in the english speaking world he should be up next to Fuentes and Marquez .For his use of language is simply breath-taking he seems to make clever puns even work in translation  ,rhythmic passages always seem to come with that cuban jazz beat behind them . But all that without being over bloated .Because every one of these vignettes ,feels like a gemstone that has been cut and polished until the shine and glitter .So why isn’t someone reissuing his cannon ,three trapped tigers was reissued in 2005 but with a terrible cover(sorry to mention covers again but it is a matter that bothers me great books with bad cover is worse than bad books with good covers to me ) well moan over .So hope for the second time I get someone to try this writer he is the most refreshing writer I ve read this book is so different to three trapped tigers and I think that is the mark of a master able to change writing style from book to book and to keep it readable .

Have you read Infante ? if so do you agree with me ?

What is your favourite Cuban novel ?

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bellezza
    Jul 01, 2012 @ 21:16:13

    I’m woefully ill-read when it comes to Spanish literature. French? Yes. Italian and British? Yes. Japanese? Yes. But, sadly, not Spanish. I think of all people I should be one who is participating in your, and Richard’s, challenge. Perhaps if you offer it again I can take part when I’m not knee deep in Dostoevsky for a Classical Pursuits course in Toronto.

    Anyway, the closest I’ve been to Cuba is Key West where we ate Cuban food, drank the wonderfully strongn chicory coffee, and listened to Cuban music. This novel of which you wrote sounds like it would add immensely to my understanding of the culture.


    • winstonsdad
      Jul 02, 2012 @ 06:09:19

      It is a good intro to there history ,I d live to go to Cuba it is one of those place I hope to visit at some time hope you find some books to read via spanish lit month


  2. Seamus Duggan
    Jul 01, 2012 @ 22:25:38

    Choosing my favorite Cuban novel is pretty easy – it’s Infante’s Inferno, the only Cuban book I remember reading, unless you count the ex-pat Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. I enjoyed his Inferno, I remember, but the details are lost in time.


  3. Richard
    Jul 02, 2012 @ 00:21:14

    I’d like to read Tres tristes tigres first, Stu, but this sounds amazing as well. Haven’t read many Cuban novels but my fave so far is one of the most famous of all: Alejo Carpentier’s 1949 The Kingdom of This World. Great book, that. Cheers!


  4. Amateur Reader (Tom)
    Jul 02, 2012 @ 00:45:26

    Carpentier, The Lost Steps – not a very Cuban Cuban novel though, since it mostly takes place in Venezuela and New York City, and is mostly about European Romanticism.


  5. Amritorupa Kanjilal
    Jul 02, 2012 @ 09:47:10

    I’d have to say Tres tristes tigres, because that is the only cuban novel I have read. I’m really excited about your Spanish lit challenge, because I love whatever i have read of literature translated from spanish.

    You have an amazing taste in books. loved your blog. am following you now!
    Please do visit my book blog, and if you like it, please follow!


  6. Tony
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 00:51:13

    Another country I have to yet to encounter in literature – this sounds good though 🙂


  7. amanda
    Jul 04, 2012 @ 01:22:40

    Haven’t read any Infante yet, although I just placed Three Trapped Tigers on my list. Your praise for his works makes me think I’ll have to bump him up in priority!


  8. Trackback: Pig’s foot by Carlos Acosta | Winstonsdad's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

July 2012


%d bloggers like this: