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Days of Awe

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  233 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
On New Year's Day 1959, as Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba, Alejandra San José was born in Havana, entering the world through the heart of revolution. Fearing the conflict and strife that bubbled up in the streets all around the new family, her parents took Ale and fled to the free shores of America.

Ale grew up in Chicago amid a close community of refugees who lived with
ebook, 400 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published July 31st 2001)
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Nancy Alexander
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
AS a Black Jew who grew up in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago thinking I was Puerto Rican, I could relate quite well to some of the themes in this book: religion as identity, language as expression of culture, secret identities. At first I found the skipping around of the story's timeline annoying in its looping. Eventually I found the circularity of the storyline like memory itself, kind of random and out of order. I really liked the main characters, Alejandra and her parents and their s ...more
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ok, so maybe I'm just obsessed, or read this is a moment of Feminist Latina Surrealist Fiction, but i think this book is mostly flawless. i know not everyone thought that (it didn't get the best reviews) but there's something so tangible, sensual, erotic to Obejas's writing. like she's this hot shit dyke trying to turn on the ladies at the bar by the way she drinks her beer. and if yer not watching her mouth, you'd miss it.

the book is primarily about family and translation. but it is also founda
If the main character hadn't been so self-absorbed and whiny, I think I would have enjoyed the story more. The conflict between being Cuban and Jewish would have been made so much stronger without the shallow characters and random, almost forced, sex scenes. There are so many better writings exploring the competing forces of cultural identity.
Brandi Larsen
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Days of Awe is a poetic book. It's the story of a family of exiles who settle in Chicago after leaving Cuba. Told from the point of view of narrator Alejandra, who was born on the same day that Fidel Castro rose to power, the novel explores what it means to belong.

This novel is as much about the family as it is about Alejandra. They're all caught between multiple worlds, trying to find how to balance being Cuban with being American and, for Alejandra's father and his extended family, how to bal
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A marvelous read. Elegant prose which flows gracefully from start to finish. Intrically drawn, varied characters with many beliefs, often contradictory but reconcilable. The book is about one's identities and inner conflicts. The characters and events are so well-drawn, one must remind oneself this isn't a biography

As part of the central issue of identity and how we choose among them, the author presents a fascinating history of the conversos and marranos from the Spanish Inquisition and how the
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

just -- fuck.

a little more than halfway through & frustrated, i went running my stupid mouth about how i'd hit what felt like the doldrums at the center of the novel, how the book lacked "forward momentum." then i came home tonight, picked it up again, & finished it in one sitting, alternately holding my breath, sighing, & laughing to myself despite my roommates' bemused glances.

probably too much of this gorgeous, gorgeous novel was lost on me -- but i know i'll read it again, h
Did not actually finish this book! I gave it a sporting chance - read 50 pages while traveling when I had no other books to distract me. Found myself continuing to wonder when it was going to get going. :( The memoir style writing is very dry and factual, and I found nothing to suck me into the story after 50 pages. Bummer, because I completely love Latin American fiction of diverse genres and went in expecting to love this Cuban female centered story. All the elements were right, and even thoug ...more
Amanda Lichtenstein
the best part about this book is obejas' sensuous, poetic prose and her insights into cuban culture & identity through the lens of her ancestors, real & imagined. i could do without the fragmented and nonlinear sex threads running through it -- it's not really hot, just sort of irritating to get through on the way to more fascinating political, cultural, and social commentary. still, she's a chicago writer, and really honest in her approach. i'm enjoying it.
Tisha Marie
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is about love and language. Love of country, culture, and familia; not always biological but family of proximity and necessity. The characters are passionate and sensual. This novel is also about translating not only words and emotions but the historical experience of a culture that exists in two worlds and the two worlds within one culture. Obejas juxtaposes the terrible and the awesome during the Cuban revolution. Reality for most people under Castro regime is bleak, a pitiful resem ...more
Nicholas Tasca
Sep 10, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No Forward Momentum

The book was boring... there's nothing more too it. Nice use of poetic prose, but it never went anywhere unfortunately.
Dec 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I would have finished reading this book if I weren't interested in Cuban history and current issues. Obejas writes beautifully, but this book was disjointed and I felt like there were random characters and experiences without relevance. In fact, it really reads more like a memoir or non-fiction book ... I found I kept double-checking that it really was a novel and that the author's name wasn't the same as the main character's. From reading the author's note, their stories and backg ...more
Dec 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully told story of a Cuban-American woman discovering her Jewish roots and the conflicts that arise. Because it's told as a memoir, it's easy to forget this is a novel and I always had to wonder if it was really an autobiography or not. If you're interested in the topic, Jewish literature, the stories of anusim, conversos, the nature of Cuban exiles, etc. then this is a must read. It does drag a little in the middle, and gets a little confusing as there are flashbacks (and flash forwards) ...more
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I thought the subject matter of this book would grab me - I have been on a Spanish Inquisition kick lately. As I was reading I was convinced it was a memoir and kept forgiving the author her tangents, off topic threads, unbelievable coincidences, and highly unlikely episodes- after all it was a memoir right? Except that it isn't a memoir, and so the inconsistencies and other odd occurrences, random historical mentions, just annoyed me! I also was put off by the brief, tossed off mentions of impo ...more
Sean Hoskin
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Visiting the inescapable question of identity, Obejas gives us characters assiduously striving to reconcile the known and previously unknown elements of cultural identity. The Americas are a confluence of ethnicities, and in our daily public lives most of us have assumed one or another without addressing the multiplicity we all bear. The protagonist of this work when faced with a lost heritage unwinds the identity in which she has been brought up to craft, for herself, the one which represents a ...more
Nov 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-chicago
Starts off as a beautiful piece of historical documentation, full of fun ideas and semi-facts about Cuba, Judaism in Cuba and the life of an exile and so on. Ends on a much lighter note though, which left me feeling like Obejas either gave up or switched strategies without giving us any sort of heads up. Worth the Saturday morning it will take you to finish it.
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Umm. I met the author at a discussion group and she was pretty cool. The book wasn't my favorite, but I feel like I learned a bit more about Cuba, which was my goal. Took awhile to get used to the jumping timeline and the main character Alejandra was quite selfish and self centered yet deeply written. I wish it was either more or less autobiographical, because it's definitely not pure fiction.
Chantel Acevedo
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just brilliant. I'm impressed by the author's wide gaze concerning Cuba. She's crafted a book that reveals all of Cuba to the reader, in all its beautiful and often confounding permutations. Similarly, the book touches upon significant moments in Cuban history. All of this is subtle, and powerful and pointed so that it is truly the protagonist's story, as well as the island's. Bravo, Achy!
Oct 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a biographical novel and quite interesting because of the Cuban heritage of the main character/novelist. Cuba is a "forbidden" subject so naturally we all want to know about it. It is interesting to see the other side of the little bits of history that we know of. I rather enjoyed it, although it took a while to read it as I was very busy.
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. The prose is utterly gorgeous. I really liked the non-linear structure, and I was fascinated by Ale's evolving attitudes toward her personal and public identities, her struggles with what it means to be Cuban and American and Jewish. I could probably read this book a thousand times and come away with something different every time.
Apr 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm in love with this book, though I think I'll need to read it at least a few more times to begin to fully understand it. It's a lyrical, sexy and complex look at identity, spirituality, and translation. I'd love to book group it, chapter by chapter.
Socket Klatzker
Mar 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish
I am loving this book! It has been a while since I have enjoyed a book this much. There is hot sex and secret judaism and queerness and deep-rooted spirituality and many generations of stories and communism and revolutionary ferver and a lot of history. Yaaaaay!
Apr 12, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is one I started to read, and stopped before I finished it. This was due to starting to try to write... that didn't work out either, but didn't have enough intereste to go back and finished this book.
Mar 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has novel has a lot of historical value, and some very interesting characters. Yet I never felt pulled into anyone's story, and the criss-crossing narratives and time travel increased confusion.
Mary Hawley
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was completely drawn into the narrative. One of my all-time favorite novels.
Ruth Stern
Obejas has a wonderful way of describing the sights and smells of Cuba. However she writes using stream of conscience and it is very difficult to figure out what time period she is talking about.
Sep 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really very good. Plot-wise, about a Cuban American woman dealing with her father, her lovers, translation, and Judaism. Beautifully written.
I'm abandoning this book for now since it is just not pulling me in at all. Maybe I'm in the wrong headspace or something.
Aug 07, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Another disappointing novel about the experience of Cuban exiles (Cf. The Sugar Island). It reads more like a memoir than a novel, & that's not a compliment from me.
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, I didn't finish this book. The first half was awesome and then it just dragged on and on and started caring less and less about the characters...
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Achy Obejas is the award-winning author of Days of Awe, Memory Mambo and We Came all the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This? Her poems, stories and essays have appeared in dozens of anthologies, including Akashic's Chicago Noir. A long time contributor to the Chicago Tribune, she was part of the 2001 investigative team that earned a Pulitzer Prize for the series, “Gateway to Gridlock.” Her ...more
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