Longing for their lost homeland unites Cuban exiles and their children, many of whom have never seen the Island. Yet as decades pass and the hope of "next year in Cuba" fades, the Cuban American community has had to forge new understandings of where "home" is and what it means to be "Cuban," "American," and/or "Cuban American." The testimonies gathered in this book offer over one hundred perspectives on the Cuban diaspora and on what it means to be Cuban in exile. Through narratives, interviews, creative writings, letters, journal entries, recipes, photographs, and paintings, Cubans from various waves of the migration and their descendants piece together a complex mosaic of the exile experience and diasporic identity.
In her introduction, Andrea O'Reilly Herrera describes how she conceived the project and chose the contributors, including both unknown and established artists and writers such as Gustavo Perez Firmat, Sylvia Curbelo, Pablo Medina, Lourdes Gil, Ricardo Pau-Llosa, Heberto Padilla, and Jose Kozer. The contributors' diverse and sometimes conflicting voices offer a more inclusive and complex understanding of Cuban American identity and the various Cuban "presences" residing throughout the United States. Likewise, they overthrow a perceived "hierarchy of suffering" among Cuban Americans, which purports to dictate who can and cannot speak authentically about exile and loss, as well as what form their expression can take. 22 photos, 2 maps