Raconteur Event - Acclaimed Authors Achy Obejas & Robert Arellano

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8:00 PM tonight, Reading/Signing with Achy Obejas & Robert Arellano

From The Raconteur:

Junot Diaz said of Cuban writer Achy Obejas, who recently translated (into Spanish) Diaz's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, "Obejas writes like an angel: flush with power, vision and hope ... one of Cuba's most important writers." In 1994 Havana, times are hard and the rationing is so tight that pieces of a blanket marinated in spices pass for sandwich meat.  With The Ruins, Obejas confronts the ruin of Cuba; evocatively chronicling the fate of those who escape to the States, and those who remain behind.

In addition to Havana Lunar, Cuban-American Robert Arellano is the author of Fast Eddie, King of Bees, and the graphic novel Dead in Desemboque, a collaboration with three comic-book artists that was inspired by the illustrated pulp fiction of Mexico. When he's not writing or teaching fiction workshops at Brown University, he plays guitar for Nick Cave, The Palace Brothers, and low-fi, quasi-country legend Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Bill), who said of Arellano's provacative fiction, "I hope he's not killed for writing this book." FREE! Comp wine. Books on sale at event.

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Unfortunately, Achy Obejas was feeling under the weather and couldn't make it tonight. But Robert Arellano was there and more than made up for it. He read from his beautifully written (from what I could tell) new book, Havana Lunar, for about 15 or so minutes, then took questions from the audience. (There's a mystery at the core of the book - I can't wait to read it.) Since Arellano's traveled back and forth to Cuba quite a number of times, many of us wanted to know what has become of the country that was once the playground of the very rich (before the Castro revolution and our own country's ensuing embargo against American travel to Cuba). What has become of the fabulous grand hotels and casinos of the 1940s? He didn't see them personally, but they are indeed crumbling. He also spoke of the difficulties of maintaining the early model American cars many Cubans still drive(from the 1950s), especially when American parts are impossible to come buy (hint - chewing gum keeps them together). Friendly and willing to take on all and any questions, Arellano (the only one of five siblings born in America) also spoke frankly about the ambiguity of being embraced as a Cuban-American (or should I say American-Cuban)author in Cuba when so many expatriot Cuban authors are banned in their homeland. It was entertaining, even for my 13-year-old daughter, who enjoyed the reading and learning about the poverty average Cuban citizens must endure today.

Thanks, again, Alex for providing another provocative evening of entertainment on a dreary spring night!

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