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Bevor es Nacht wird. Ein Leben in Havanna
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Bevor es Nacht wird. Ein Leben in Havanna

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  3,682 Ratings  ·  319 Reviews
»Seit langem hat mich kein Buch so bewegt.« Mario Vargas Llosa

»Der Freund der mir die Shorts besorgt hatte, versteckte mich in einer der Kabinen am Strand und ging zu meinem Haus, das jetzt von Polizisten mit Hunden bewacht wurde. Er sagte, ich solle schnell ins Meer springen und mich hinter einer Boje verstecken, da würden mich die Hunde nicht aufspüren.«

Der Versuch, sch
Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by dtv (first published 1992)
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Owen Boy, am I thinking exactly the same thing as I reach the halfway point, and not very sure I want to continue for the reasons you mention. I am only…moreBoy, am I thinking exactly the same thing as I reach the halfway point, and not very sure I want to continue for the reasons you mention. I am only just beginning to research into the background of the supposedly famous work, so if you have anything to add sine you put this up 10 months go, I would be interested to hear it.(less)
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Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aspiring writers who don't understand how good they have it
Shelves: favorites
Perhaps the single BEST MEMOIR I've ever read-- this work of art is excruciating. There is no doubt that everything that occurred to Arenas happened and that here is testament of how the new wave of Cuban writers, lingering between Batista (incited by him and his regime) & entering into the holocaust that is Communist Cuba by Castro, struggled & died. This voice was not extinguished, however.

Arena's life is full of missteps, amazing accomplishments & plenty of sex. He's proud of hims
K.D. Absolutely
Surprisingly very good. It's main message is freedom. Freedom from repressive Cuban regime of Fulgencio Batista and the more detestable one of Fidel Castro. Freedom from the sexual discrimination against gays in the Communist Cuba and this explains the picture that Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990): that homosexuality in Cuba was rampant. The book is full of explicit sex scenes not only of homosexuality but bestiality. I suspect that that was intentional in a way that Marquis de Sade (1740-1819) portr ...more
Ben Winch
I don't know if this is 'literature' - and I certainly didn't read it as if it was (skipping around and skimming sections as I do with rock biographies) - but it feels true to me. And Reinaldo Arenas writes about literature as one who loves it above all - certainly above politics. Not for him any alignment with 'Left' or 'Right', and I agree completely, when the so-called Left can behave as the leaders of Cuba did during the period that Arenas writes about here. Not only that, but when supporter ...more
Valentina Quiceno
Reinaldo Arenas, con voz de denuncia, narra las vivencias que tuvo naciendo en una dictadura, y viviendo en otra mucho peor. Siendo homosexual, y un escritor que no apoya el régimen; tenía muchas razones para ser perseguido y encarcelado por "contrarrevolucionario".
Las memorias de Arenas son fuertes, pero necesarias. Grita en cada página, y sigue gritando hasta ahora.

Ma dopo vent'anni di repressione, come avrei potuto stare zitto davanti a quei crimini? E inoltre non mi sono mai considerato né di sinistra né di destra, né voglio essere catalogato sotto qualunque etichetta di opportunismo politico. Io racconto la mia verità, come un ebreo che abbia sofferto il razzismo o un russo che sia stato in un gulag, come qualunque essere umano che abbia avuto gli occhi per vedere le cose come sono.

Libro che mi instilla vari dubbi.
Dal punto di vista storico-politico è
"Il coraggio è una follia piena di grandezza."

Quando Reinaldo Arenas iniziò a scrivere la sua autobiografia era ancora giovane, era ancora a Cuba, la più florida e per questo potente, pericolosa manifestazione della vita e della vitalità, così nemica ai regimi. Scriveva nei boschi, di nascosto, con il sole unico complice; ogni giorno si affrettava a terminare, prima che arrivasse la notte.
Quando Reinaldo Arenas terminò la sua autobiografia era non di molto più vecchio, malato di AIDS, in esilio.
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shocking book, perfectly written! It kept me up nights. I don't know what to think, whose side to take as the author, refugee from Cuba to NY, terminally ill with AIDS, narrates his life right before chosing to end it, and this life is basically Gay suppresion vs. Castro's Cuba. I have an unconditional love for both gay fighters and for Castro, whom R. Arenas considers the Devil himself and the cause of all his troubles.
Nevertheless, the book gave me enormous pleasure and subjects to think upon
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cubans,Gays,Poets,Reinaldo Arenas'mother,those with a bawdy sense of humor/communism
Recommended to Jason by: netflix
"...he lived a life whose beginning and end were indeed the same: from the start, one long, sustained sexual act..." says Guillermo Cabrera about Arenas' life. And man oh man, he wasn't kidding. There is so much sex in this book! It makes me think that everyone in Cuba is a sexhound waiting to pounce on each other, only restrained by social mores and/or the repressive government and its forced status quo. there is so much sex, it's funny. In his childhood he's having sex with all these animals a ...more
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro muy duro, autobiográfico en los últimos días del escritor, consciente ya de la muerte que le acontece a cuentagotas, enfermo, resentido del dolor de los años preso dentro y fuera de una cárcel, perseguido, desolado, desconfiando y traicionado por amigos y familiares. Tiene muchos momentos desgarradores. Por muchos considerado anti propaganda castrista, pero bueno,, hay que escuchar las dos campanas en lo posible, no?
Lissette Rosa
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Es la primera vez que tengo la oportunidad de leer un libro autobiográfico y debo decir que fue sumamente impactante. Las condiciones desdichadas a las que Arenas se ve expuesto son meramente reflejos de las ataduras de una sociedad reprimida. Obligado a renegar sus ideologías y preferencias sexuales, éste encuentra refugio en la escritura. Plasma su postura anticastrista y las penurias por las que, no solo él, sino un sin número de cubanos, se ven afectados. Marcando así un hito en la literatur ...more
Robert Beveridge
Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls (Penguin, 1993)

Arenas' memoir of life in Cuba has recently been made into one of the finest films extant by Julian Schnabel. Schnabel did an excellent job with the book; while his interpretation of the text was loose in places, he managed to capture in images the style of Arenas' writing.

In other words, if you saw the movie before reading the book, you're going to be somewhat surprised. Some of Schnabel's more memorable scenes are mentioned in passing (if at a
Well I had to fight through that one at times.

I understand and feel for the author with the Cuban repression of his art, and the squalor that he had to live in. I think he was a wonderful writer, and his novels are probably brilliant. His views of the American far Left made me smile, as how can anyone have a better view of Cuba and the hatred and unjustified oppression that communism in that country produces.


I can not believe for one second many of the tales of his "erotic encounters." Cub
Sean A.
Absolutely stunningly brilliant, candid memoir. Arenas does an immaculate job, as he would describe it, of screaming against the systems of control (in this case, the so-called communism but really dystopian dictatorship of castro's cuba) which doggedly plagued the author throughout his life. his scream is one of joy, and that joy often abounds from two distinct but sometimes overlapping subjects; sexuality (more explicitly, a hungry homoerotic sexuality) and the sea. these aspects provide the b ...more
If you are looking for a nice, inspiring biography that delicately glosses over the actual suffering part of the writer's experience, this book is not for you. If descriptions of sexual encounters (enough to be questionable) bother you, this book is also not for you.

This was not easy to read by any means. While well written and compelling, the blunt descriptions of the things he saw and experienced are vivid and have genuine emotional impact. I feel admiration for him for having survived and gri
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Изключителна книга.
Изпълнена с копнеж по свободата и борба за живот, непримиримост с диктатурата и нейните деца - жестокостта и озлобението.
На моменти начина, по който Аренас се спасява изглежда твърде невероятен, трудно е да повярва човек че всичко това се е случило. И че той е оцелял - въпреки системните опити да бъде погубен, а творчеството му заличено.
Въпреки огромного разочарование на емигрантския живот, което го настига накрая, не мога да не се възхитя на невероятната сила и смелост на то
Jennifer Mccombs
The truth that stems from this book is beautiful. Quite possibly my favorite writer at the moment. Each description is original in thought and placed on paper with no insecurities resting behind his hand. Beautiful, original, honest...a human being that was able to turn his own tragedy and life's struggle into a poetic memoir that should greet the eyes of anyone that considers themselves a true fan of great literature. This book will scare the shit out of you and make you think about Cuba and it ...more
To check out my review:

True Rating: 3.5

I FINALLY finished reading this book after months of laziness and I am proud of myself that I actually read this entire book. I desperately want to give this book the full 5 stars because Reinaldo Arenas's writing is impeccable but unfortunately this book is not meant for public consumption. Ever since news has broken out about the United States negotiations with Cuba, I started getting curious over Cuba's history ev
Nicolas Chinardet
Even before the actual beginning of the book (in the introduction) we become aware of how unreliable Arenas is as a narrator. The impression is repeatedly reinforced throughout the book to the point that it become impossible to fathom what is true from what is exaggeration or even fiction under the pen of someone who seems perpetually dissatisfied with his lot and clearly has an axe to grind.

Having managed to read most of it in the original Spanish with the English translation at hand I was als
Eddie Clarke
A brave, honest and tragic autobiography, in a way demonstrating the persistence of idealism and hope despite the horrors of Castro's Cuba and the brutal disappointments of exile. Quite raw and unpolished, perhaps due to the circumstances in which it was written (he had AIDS), but nevertheless extraordinarily powerful and emotionally affecting.
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to visit Cuba more than ever after reading Reinaldo Arenas' bio. When you read this book, you will be given a raw and realistic insight into cuban society under Fidel Castro's regime and it will not look all that good, but something about it just makes cuban culture and cuban history very intriguing.

Arenas' story is a rough patch. All along, from birth to death. Yet he seemed to juggle his hardships in a very brave and undefeated way, it's as if he was used to live in misery and accept it
More than two decades ago I read a devastating memoir, 'Against all Hope' by Armando Valladares, that depicted the brutality of Castro's Cuba from the view of a prison cell. Now I have encountered a comparable memoir in 'Before Night Falls'. His memoir, just as shocking as that by Valladares, is above all a book about being free -- as an artist, a citizen, and a human. Recounting his journey from a poverty-stricken childhood in rural Cuba (undoubtedly a more severe life than poverty in America d ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredible memoir that enriched my trip to Cuba immensely. It's a brutal history of the Castro regime's devastation of the Cuban gay literary community, from a very compelling narrator. It was painful to read at times, but I felt the weight of the importance of this story (especially being there and being pummeled by Castro propaganda at all times). Around the middle of my trip, I realized the book itself was probably still contraband and started to hide the cover while I was reading ...more
Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remember when memoirists actually had something to say...?
Aug 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pretty sure I'd like this one... but at around page 200, it turns into chaos. The last few pages it seems like he becomes an astrologist or looking for meaning in everything.
Oh well
Troy Rutman
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can fall in love with a ghost
A compelling man; there's a compelling story here. But repetition galore. I'm no prude, but I could have done without descriptions of probably half of (Arenas's estimates) 5,000 different sexual encounters.

That said, the Introduction and the Farewell are breathtaking. Growing up under Batista is moving. And the middle third: trying to evade Castro's thugs, then a spell in Cuba's thuggish prisons (sentenced for being a foreign-published writer and a homosexual) was riveting.

Sadly, once he escap
keith koenigsberg
Arenas writes autobiographically about growing up in Cuba; the story is really 2 stories. On one hand it is an account of the cruel and suffocating regime of Castro and the repression that was pervasive, on the other hand it is an account of Arenas' astounding homosexual promiscuity. Really, after reading this you would think that every man in Cuba had to have been gay, for Arenas to have had the sheer number of partners he claims. Not Arenas' best work.
[Around the World challenge: Cuba] This book was absolutely amazing. This is the memoir of Reinaldo Arenas, a Cuban writer persecuted not only because of his opposition against Castro but also because he was gay under a dictature that felt threatened by it. This is a book about freedom, anger, and life. The way the author chooses to picture Cuba is brilliant, the most intelligent and powerful ''f** you" to Castro there could have been.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, julio-17
es una de las biografías de las que he leido que más me ha gustado.
En este caso Reinaldo Arenas habla de una forma clara, sin tapujos de su vida en cuba y de ambas dictaduras: la baptista y la de castro.
De sus intentos de salir de la isla, así como del exilio.
Muy recomendable.
Christopher Jones
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Arenas was born in the countryside, in the northern part of the Province of Oriente, Cuba, and later moved to the city of Holguín. In 1963, he moved to Havana to enroll in the School of Planification and, later, in the Faculty of Letters at the Universidad de La Habana, where he studied philosophy and literature without completing a degree. The following year, he began working at the Biblioteca Na ...more
More about Reinaldo Arenas...
“La diferencia entre el sistema comunista y el capitalista es que, aunque los dos nos den una patada en el culo, en el comunista te la dan y tienes que aplaudir, y en el capitalista te la dan y uno puede gritar.” 18 likes
“These, to be sure, were farfetched hopes, hopes born of despair, but hope is, after all, mostly for the desperate.” 10 likes
More quotes…