In contemporary Havana, "Do I stay or do I go?" is always the question, and love doesn't necessarily conquer all.
"Love in Havana, love found and mislaid. In thoughtfully chosen words—just those needed, and no more—Mylene Fernandez offers us a magnificent gift. Her story of lost love and the difficult pursuit of literature is at the same time an X-ray of life in Havana, set in a present where glimpses of the future have not yet arrived."—Leonardo Padura, author of The Man Who Loved Dogs and the Mario Conde novels of Havana.
"No novel I have read in the past two years has attracted me as much as this one—for many reasons, but especially because it manages to capture within its few pages so many key elements of today's Cuba."—Cira Romero, La Jiribilla
In the wake of her mother's recent death, Marian has been keeping to herself. A cautious, reserved professor of Spanish Literature, she has no idea that her quiet life is about to be turned upside down. When she's asked to review the work of a young, ambitious first-time novelist, she meets Daniel, and their love affair leads her to question both the choices she's made so far in her life and the opportunities she might yet still have.
Theirs is the story of an intense and impossible love, set in today's Havana, a city where there can be no plans, where chance is the order of the day and a fierce sense of loyalty and pride coexists with the desire to live beyond the island's isolation. Their love affair is marked by the ever-present choice of staying on the island or migrating out, a choice Cubans face on a daily basis. The hope of a common future shatters into individual and incompatible goals, as the dilemma of "living or leaving" is confronted with humor, irony, and a dose of melancholy.
Mylene Fernández-Pintado's novels have won the Italo Calvino Prize and Cuba's Critics' Award. She currently lives between Havana and Lugano, Switzerland. This is the first of her works to be translated into English.