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Cuba and the Night

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  283 Ratings  ·  27 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
ebook, 256 pages
Published October 5th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1995)
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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
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
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!
Nov 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: latin-twist
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
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
thoroughly enjoyed it. Travellogue NOIR! what a genre.
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

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
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I read this book before I went to Cuba - I would have known so much more about everyday life people have there. But all in all, it was nice to experience Cuba through book like this, after the visit. It was so overwhelming, surprising and stunning - the same feeling I had while I was on Cuba.

It is very well written, story keeps person stuck to it and it is a little bit unusual. I'm just not much of a fan when it comes to love novels, so I can't say more.

But I liked how he pictured Cuba in
Aug 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2015
Pico Ayer is well known as a travel writer, however, this is a novel well informed by the time Ayer has spent in Cuba. I probably picked this up due to this year’s Cuba-US diplomatic rapprochement. The narrator is a globe trotting professional photographer who comes to Cuba to decompress. There is a love affair that can end in only two ways: marriage and the precious exit visa for the bride or abandonment. What’s particularly striking in the novel is all the men and women the narrator who are al ...more
Here is another novel I sought out in preparation for a discussion about changing American foreign policy with Cuba. First published in 1995, the novel provides an atmospheric portrait of Castro’s Cuba in the early 1990’s. Richard, a jaded journalist is smitten with a ravishing cubana named Lourdes. Iyer explores the gulf between their worlds. The journalist wonders if he is being used as a ticket of her escape to the outside world. At the same time, Lourdes fears she may only be Richard’s ideal ...more
Sep 29, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Mar 10, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
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.
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was awesome to go see the places in Havana described in the book as I was reading it. I thought Iyer's story took a long time to unfold, but the main character had flaws that came back to bite him in entirely sensible and plausible ways. I'd have given it 3.5 stars 10 pages before the end, but upped it to 4 rather than rounding down to 3.
Marisa James
I love Pico Iyer's nonfiction. "The Lady and the Monk" is one of my favorite books, and his travel writing is always a delight. This is the second novel of Iyer's that I've read, and I found both disappointing. Maybe fiction can never be quite as compelling as reality, especially for someone who has seen so much of the world.
Supriya Manot
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Apr 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Another in my frequent forays into Cuba via the pages. I really want to go there.
David W.  Berner
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful story with one of the best two chapters of fiction I've read in a long time.
Aug 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this about five years ago when on a long holiday in Australia. I recall enjoying it!
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.
Betsy Gosling
rated it it was amazing
Apr 06, 2014
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Apr 08, 2012
Anantha Lakshmi
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Sep 02, 2014
Cherise Wolas
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Jun 27, 2017
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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...
“When love is a commodity, you wonder why anyone's giving it away for free. Or what the hidden costs might be.” 2 likes
“... you could help people most by not giving them the burden of your heart.” 1 likes
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