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Cuba and the Night

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  221 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Having captivated readers with such gems of travel writing as Video Night in Kathmandu, Pico Iyer now presents a novel whose central character is another place: the melancholy, ebullient, and dazzlingly inconsistent island that is Castro's Cuba. "On almost every page you can smell the dust, the cheap perfume and the rum of Havana today, or better still, tonight."--Los Ange ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 16th 1996 by Vintage (first published 1995)
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Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos EireOur Man in Havana by Graham GreeneDreaming in Cuban by Cristina GarcíaThe Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar HijuelosBefore Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas
Books About Cuba/Cubans
98th out of 115 books — 73 voters
The Last Honest Man in Havana by Melanie Furlong-RiesgoHavana Bay by Martin Cruz SmithHavana Dreams by Wendy GimbelCuba and the Night by Pico IyerCuba Diaries by Isadora Tattlin
Cuban Fiction
4th out of 9 books — 3 voters

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Dec 05, 2012 Orion added it
This is a delightfully insightful look at life in communist Cuba and also a love story between an international photojournalist and a young Cuban woman. Told in the first person from the photographer's point of view, we slowly see the complexities of Cuban life unfold as he becomes more involved with this woman and her life in Cuba. The contrasts between the needs of men and women in relationships, and capitalism and communism, are well presented. Although written during the early 1990s, the por ...more
Not the best Pico Iyer. I didnt' really get into it. Probably because I don't really understand what the big fuss about Cuba was about.

This book was only memorable because I had to explain what it was about to some hard-core chinese brain-washed Commie's son, who had no idea why someone like me from Hong kong would read about what's his name that runs Cuba.

That was until I explained that I was not reading it for Cuba. I was reading it for Pico Iyer AND the way he totally trashed the stupid whit
Pico Iyer is a journalist, but this book of fiction about modern day Cuba captures the energy, heat and struggles of those living on the island in a unique way. It's a great read!
Before (and after) my trip to Havana in 2000, I read as many books about contemporary Cuba as possible. This is one of my faves.
thoroughly enjoyed it. Travellogue NOIR! what a genre.
It took me forever to finish this book. Being Cuban-American, I always gravitate toward fictional stories based in or about Cuba. This was no exception. It was set in the 80’s, during the days of the Cold War and Reagan. The story is mostly narrated from the viewpoint of a journalistic photographer who travels the world following political issues and wars and whatnot. As you can predict, the formula is tried and true: the typical, can’t-settle-down American photographer falls in love with the pr ...more

A weakly plotted romantic story showcases Iyer's skills as a travel writer and demonstrates that writing travelogues and writing fiction are two different things.

The portraits of the Cubans and their night life are vibrant and sad and those of the foreigners, including the author's first person personae, are stereotypical. The foreigners do not seem to be fully conscious of nor appreciative of the risks their new Cuban friends area taking to associate with them.

The romance is so poorly drawn, we
I'm still halfway through, but this book is unfolding like a long, dramatic, sad, nostalgic sigh. (Thats meant to be a positive description...) It reminds me of first-time falling in love, although it is romance of a rather juvenile, sex-enhanced type, though set in the very worldly context of Castro's Cuba.

Months later:
Ok I'm dropping my rating by a star... never actually finished this book, though I peeked to the end to find out what happened. The protagonist, a Western journalist in Cuba, jus
I enjoy reading Pico Iyer's travel articles and this work of fiction didn't disappoint either. He brings you in the middle of glorious Cuba's beauty and pathos and giving you a peak inside the protagonist's thoughts. By the end, you want it to be over as well as don't want it to end. Very few can manage that!
Maria Maniaci
I love Pico Iyer's nonfiction. I guess I don't love his fiction. This book... didn't know what the heck it wanted to be. Was it supposed to be a romance? Plot devices abound. The author seems a bit in love with his vita. But my main issue was that it was, page after page, overly polemical to the detriment of what isn't exactly a plot.

I might've just limped away quietly at the end, but the ending was such an incredible cop-out. Grrr.

That said, I'd be willing to try another of Iyer's novels, beca
Pico Iyer is not someone I associated with novels dealing with affairs of the human heart, so I was surprised when I came across this in the second-hand bookstore.

His evocation of Havana was effective; his development of characters and attempts to probe their interior lives failed miserably. Given his talent to write well about place, he should probably stick to non-fiction.

Pico Iyer remains someone I do not associate with novels dealing with affairs of the human heart.
Pico Iyer is a great travel writer--he knows how to capture those liminal moments when you forget what time zone you're in. This book is at it's best when he sticks to creating evocative atmosphere. The rest of the book--trite, gender-normative plot, weak characters--I could do without.
Jackie Ballard
The story is not that gripping but I loved the descriptions of Havana and Varadero - really brought Cuba to life and revived memories of a great holiday which I had there.
Enjoyed this book very much. The author is primarily a travel writer, so the depiction of Cuba was excellent and evocative. A romantic expatriate story in the tradition of Graham Greene.
James E. Martin
vividly written but slow in plot. Good portrait of an obsessive attraction and unhealthy character without slipping into cliche. Ending was predictable, but well done.
Debbie Kearns
Gave a good feel of Cuba, just got tired of the "love" story.
Definitely worth reading while you are in Havana or just back, don't bother if you are not going to Cuba.
I read this about five years ago when on a long holiday in Australia. I recall enjoying it!
Another in my frequent forays into Cuba via the pages. I really want to go there.
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Pico Iyer is a British-born essayist and novelist of Indian descent. As an acclaimed travel writer, he began his career documenting a neglected aspect of travel -- the sometimes surreal disconnect between local tradition and imported global pop culture. Since then, he has written ten books, exploring also the cultural consequences of isolation, whether writing about the exiled spiritual leaders of ...more
More about Pico Iyer...
Video Night in Kathmandu and Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere Falling Off the Map: Some Lonely Places of the World The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

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