Monday, 15 February 2010
My Thoughts: Ruins by Achy Obejas
After reading After the Dance by Danticat Edwidge I thought I'd try and complete the Caribbean section of the Olympic challenge (I have a long way to go). When Ruins arrived from the library I realised I already read a book for Cuba (The Aguero Sisters) but the premise was good and the book short so I gave it a go.
Ruins is set in Havana in 1994, in the years when many Cubans were evacuating the place in anything which they could find. Usnavy, a man loyal and law abiding watches as his friends either leave or break the law to earn dollars illegally.
The place is dirt poor, houses are falling to pieces in the rain, women are selling spice and gravy soaked pieces of blanket disguised as steak to earn a few pounds and they wash in a communal area using bottles of boiled water.
Usnavy is determined that he and his family will live above the law, until he discovers ways to make money wih the discovery of a Tiffany lamp. At first he abstains from temptation, but as his wife and daughter slowly desert him he is forced to see that his beliefs are destroying his home life.
I really enjoyed this look at Cuba, we forget just how impoverished places in the Western world really are. Obejas shows the way that immigration has affected the Cubans lives, they can see what their relatives have in America and so live always wanting more, reaching in places that they wouldn't normally as a means of achieving it.
Do you have a suggestions for a Caribbean read?