Fictional First-Person Discourses in Cuban Diaspora Novels

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Nominated for the 2013 Caribbean Studies Association Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Award
This book considers Cuban diaspora novels written since 1980, critically examining the autobiographical elements of the works and the authors who wrote them. Incorporating autobiographical theories and Cuban exile history across literary generations, the study analyzes different approaches to fictional self-figuration. It underscores how the autobiographical within fictional discourses does not conceal, but instead reveals more flexible outlets for authorial and diasporic self-representation.
From the beginning the author defines the difference between diaspora and exile. The text then studies three periodic phases in the first-person fictional novels of Cuban writers outside the island, taking into consideration the writers’ own displacement and the nature of the dynamics between exile and adopted country. The author discovers a commonality in all of the novels: strong parallels between history and fiction and overlapping characteristics of the novels’ authors and their narrating protagonists – both displaced subjects. The text represents an important contribution to autobiographical studies and to the study of both Cuban and Latino literature in the United States, but especially to the studies of one of the newest routes of Cuban literature in the world.


“… thoughtful study of a multigenerational group of Cuban writers. Given Cuba’s long tradition of expatriation, it is a bit surprising that, to my knowledge, Rosales Herrera is the first to address, in depth and in detail, the issue of self-writing in Cuban exile literature. His book draws a lively and convincing portrait of the forms and ends of fictional self-writing.” – Prof. Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Columbia University

“… combines an original and critical insight as it analyzes specific literary works of the Cuban diaspora from an innovative and understudied perspective. Focusing concretely on first-person fictional accounts written in Spanish by Cuban exiles of different migratory waves, Rosales Herrera vividly illustrates the myriad ways authors negotiate exilic experiences in the written figuration of self.” – Prof. Isabel Alvarez Borland, College of the Holy Cross

“…Rosales Herrera’s work is timely, pertinent, and with the potential to make an important contribution to the study of self-writing, diaspora and exile texts, immigrant literature, and Cuban American history and culture in general.” – Prof. Eliana S. Rivero, The University of Arizona

"The recent book by Raul Rosales Herrera will be of interest [in the] political and culture of the idea of the 'Cuban diaspora' ... for the literature in the eighties and nineties [this book] is essential." -- Prof. Gregory Helmick, University of North Florida

"Highly pertinent and thoroughly researched, [This book] offers several feasible deductions about Cuban exile first-person narratives written during the second half of the twentieth century." -Prof. Graham Ignizio, Metropolitan State University of Denver

"... it clearly demonstrates an evolution of the Cuban exilic experience and a move from Cuban to Cuban-American, a cultural shift that will define an entire generation and change our perception of the Cuban diaspora. ... This important and masterfully written text reveals individual and cultural representations caught in the experience of exile." -Dr. Joshua Deckman, Penn State University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Gustavo Pérez Firmat:“An ¡Ay! for an I”



The Narrating Diaspora

Cuban Exile Autobiographical Performance

Literary Waves of Cuban Exile Writing: An Overview

Part One: The Mariel Generation: Symbolic Figurations of the Marginalized Exile

The Mariel Generation: Symbolic Figurations of the Marginalized Exile
1. Guillermo Rosales’s Boarding Home (1987)

Guillermo Rosales: An Alienated Life

A Tale of Two Men: Confession, Creation and Reflection

Displacement, Violence and the Non-Place of Otherness

Imaginative Escapes and Apocalyptic Mirrors

The Exilic Dead End

2. Miguel Correa’s Al norte del infierno (1983)

Miguel Correa: Mariel’s Voice of Self and Community

Between You and I: the Multiplicity of Narrating Selves

Dialogic Interplays: The Testimonial Masks of Mariel

To Hell and Back: Mariel’s Roots and the Substitutive Doubles of the Exilic Present

‘And We Are Not Leaving’ – Mariel Selves Post-Exodus

Part Two: The Special Period:(Meta-) Fictional Discourses and the Displaced Subject

3. Zoé Valdés’s La nada cotidiana (1995)

Zoé Valdés: Special Period Cuba and the Consolidation of a Writer

Autobiographical Acts of Resistance: Female Counter-Discourses of Self and Body

Writing the I: Polyphonic Self-Representation and its Fictions

The Text Yocandra is Writing: Narrative Structure and the Metafictional Arena

4. Daína Chaviano’s El hombre, la hembra y el hambre (1998)

Daína Chaviano: The Voice and Memory of a Cuban Generation

The Special Period and Cuban Identity: Fragmented Subjectivity and Corporal Dissidence

Who is Writing? Who are we Reading? The Duplicative Relationships of Self-Figuration

Reclaiming the Past, Affirming the Present: Exile as Autobiographical Act

Part Three: Recent First-Generation Cuban Exile Writing:Performing Identity in the Cuban-American Present

5. Hilda Perera’s La noche de Ina (1993)

Hilda Perera: “Reflections” of a First-Generation Exile Writer

Diasporic Personas: The Performative Nature of Language

Cuban Identities and Generational Conflict: A Crisis of Self, a Crisis of Exile

Between Exile and Diaspora





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