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3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  166 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
...a powerful account of a vanished world...invaluable.-Newsweek

"Its contribution to our understanding of Cuban history and national temperament is no less than its immense appeal as a human testament....All the fire and dash of the Cuban character, the refusal ever to cringe or to give up, take on flesh and meaning in the reminiscences of this stubborn veteran."-Times Lit
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 1st 1987 by Del Sol Publishing (first published 1973)
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In a time of despotism and heavy governmental censorship -- say, in Cuba in the decade after its 1959 Revolution -- how do you write stories?

With this book, Miguel Barnet founded one potential answer in what he would call the "testimonial novel". The trick is this: You (the author) interview another person, preferably an ordinary person whose voice would otherwise be considered too inconsequential for the pages of history, and you turn his/her experiences into a novel, maintaining his/her idiosy
Zach Lee
When this book is first published in 1968, Esteban Montejo is a 105-year-old former slave, but he has lived through more than abolition and the war for independence. The book is published in the wake of another Cuban revolution, this one Castro’s, and Montejo’s voice is as timely then as in the late-nineteenth century. His wisdom and recollections are based as much on his own experiences in daily life as the events that reshaped Cuba. He is not a historian in an academic sense, but rather in the ...more
Jun 14, 2009 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book is a collection of interviews with a Cuban man who was born enslaved, escaped and then fought in the war of independence. The interviews were conducted when he was 103-105. So he made it to after the Revolution and died at about 113.

I didnt finish the book. I actually stopped during the most interesting bit, with only about 40 pages to go. I enjoyed what I did read. It is more anthropolgy than history in the sense that these fields dont overlap. For example he talks extensively about w
Feb 02, 2008 Elsie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm working on my Spanish so... it might have been a 5 if I were up to the job. In the mean time it's about the problem of wanting to participate in a community when you have always separated yourself from the community you see and can't accept. The translation of the title into "Story of a Slave" is bad because Montejo is giving his story (of being a cimarron--more a 'fugitive') in contradiction to the official history of his person as slave. We talked about how testimonio is always an insurgen ...more
Aug 16, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cimarron is an essential, unparalleled document from the source: the account of an escaped slave in Cuba in the last decades of the 19th century. It is retold through the pen of Miguel Barnet, who spent 3 years taking notes from their conversations at the very end of Esteban Montejo's very long life (in 1963, he was 103 years old). Fascinating and enlightening, I'm not sure why it has never been translated into English. It's also kinda cool that the author and I share the same name.
This gets my vote for the worst book group book ever (the previous prize belonged to Saramago's Balthasar and Blimunda, another book I couldn't finish). I think maybe if the author had actually written a biography rather than what appears to be transcribing tapes, it could have been interesting. It's tedious. I read 100 pages. I quit.
Isaac Timm
As a historical source, there was slim information but very interesting information about folklore, religion and culture of Afro-Cuban's, both before and after the abolition of slavery. I also found myself liking the cranking, sometimes fiery, loner and patriot Esteban Montejo. The man was 105, so I allowed for the occasional Abe Simpson moment.
Feb 22, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read because it was assigned in a class I am TA-ing. Really fascinating, particularly if you have only ever read slave narratives from the United States, as I had. Actually, I know practically nothing about Cuban history in general, so this was great for a number of reasons. And the undergrads seemed to like it, as practically everybody contributed to the discussion.
Jack D
Feb 03, 2016 Jack D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredibly interesting compilation on Cuban religion, customs and culture, and history. I would recommend this book.
Mary Emily O'Hara

Leí en español para una clase sobre literatura España, y fue muy claro y fácil de entender por una estudiante y nativa hablante de ingles. ¡Perfecto!
May 23, 2008 Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una cuenta triste pero real sobre la vida de un esclavo en las plantaciones de cana de azucar en Cuba. (A sad yet real account about the life of a slave in the sugar cane plantations in Cuba.)
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