one of my new favorite writers: Daína Chaviano

Last month I finished the excellent Man, Woman, and Hunger (El hombre, la hembra, y el hambre).  Now I’m reading a very different book by her, Fables from an Extraterrestrial Grandmother.  I’ve been enjoying Chaviano so much (and having so much trouble placing her in a genre) that I was pleased to encounter this profile of her from a few years ago.

The Cuban exile’s books are best described as wild experiments in genre-busting. It’s as if Ray Bradbury married Michael Ende and frolicked occasionally with Anáis Nin.

She conceived of a series called Habana Oculta, or the Occult Side of Havana, that would take a realistic approach to describing the magical elements of the city she had left behind [Havana].

The most recent book in the Habana Oculta series, El hombre, la hembra, y el hambre (Man, Woman, and Hunger, Planeta, 1998) describes how four characters, including a prostitute turned Santería priestess and an economist turned butcher, struggle with their double lives and sense of lost identity in modern-day Cuba.

I recommend the whole article, as well as perusing the author’s site.

The book I’m reading by her now has one of the most fascinating narrative structures I’ve ever encountered: four simultaneous narratives, Narrative A has a novelist writing Narratives B and C, but Narrative B also has an ancient grandmother telling stories about Narratives A and C, and a sage in Narrative D can observe Narratives A and C in a crystal ball.  Mind exploding!

[Photo from Chaviano’s site]

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6 thoughts on “one of my new favorite writers: Daína Chaviano”

  1. Ernesto,

    Gracias por la recomendación. Tengo «La isla de los amores infinitos» en mi estante para leer después de acabar con «fábulas». ¿has leído los otros libros del serie (gata encerrada, casa de juegos)?

  2. Sí, los he leído todos. Soy un fan de esta escritora.

    ¿Ustedes son un grupo con intereses culturales sobre Africa (African American) o simplemente lectores que van cambiando de “subjects” de lectura?

  3. Soy un individual con intereses culturals, económicos, y políticos sobre Africa (mi trabajo se trata de varios países africanos y viajo allí varias veces al año). Soy “host” de este programa de leer libros sobre Africa para crear un lugar central donde la gente puede compartir lo que está aprendiendo.

  4. You would probably enjoy reading The Knight and his shadow (Le cavalier et son ombre). It is gripping. I don’t know if it’s available in English, although it should be. Written by Boubacar Boris Diop of Senegal. I wrote my thesis on this book because it was the only book I could imagine reading over and over and over without getting bored.

  5. Very interesting, tukopamoja. I am glad to know there are inteligent people trying to learn more about the world where we live in.

    Chaviano’s books are a good place to start. She covers an amazing variety of subjects and themes with depth of knowledge. And best of all, with such a sense of beauty, intrigue and adventure that I don’t know why haven’t all her books been translated into English. Well, at least the first one is coming out this summer. Hopefully, more will be in the future.

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