In the Cuban town of Sagua la Grande, a young Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria peers out the window of his family home on the morning of the Nochebuena fiesta as preparations begin for the slaughter of a feast day pig. The author recalls "watching them at a distance, though thinking, fearing, that once I grew older I would have to participate in the whole event." Now an acclaimed scholar of Latin American literature, Gonzalez Echevarria returns to the rituals that defined his young life in Cuban Fiestas. Drawing from art, literature, film, and even the national sport of baseball, he vividly reveals the fiesta as a dynamic force of both destruction and renewal in the life of a people.
Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria masterfully exposes the distinctive elements of the fiesta cubana that give depth and coherence to more than two centuries of Cuban cultural life. Reaching back to nineteenth-century traditions of Cuban art and literature, and augmenting them, in the twentieth, with the arts of narrative, the esthetic performances of sport and entertainment in nightclubs, on the baseball diamond, and in movie theaters, Cuban Fiestas renders the lilting strains of the fiesta and drum beats of the passage of time as keys to understanding the dynamic quality of Cuban culture. Gonzalez Echevarria's explorations are also illuminated by autobiographical vignettes that unveil the ever-shifting impact of the fiesta on the author's own story of exile and return.
Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria is Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literature at Yale. He is author of The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball, as well as major studies of Cervantes, Carpentier, Garcia Marquez, and Sarduy.