Arlene Sanders's Reviews > Tomorrow They Will Kiss: A Novel

Tomorrow They Will Kiss by Eduardo Santiago
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May 27, 2008

it was amazing
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EDUARDO SANTIAGO, in my opinion, eventually will win the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished fiction by an American author, and he may be the next writer of Cuban descent to do so.

TOMORROW THEY WILL KISS is right up there with other Pulitzer
winners. Santiago is young, and he has talent and dedication. And so it is, I believe, only a matter of time.

Graciela, Caridad and Imperio -- Cuban women in exile -- work in a doll factory in New Jersey. Santiago segues back to Cuba throughout the novel, so we can see the life they left during the Cuban Revolution and understand what they're up against in the U.S. Graciela deals with her frustrations just like American women do -- by losing herself in TV soap operas.

What older American has never escaped into radio soaps, including the one that asked the question, "Can this girl from the little mining town in the West find happiness as the
wife of a wealthy and titled Englishman?" (Our Gal Sunday in the 1940s.) What younger American has never lost herself in The Guiding Light, All My Children or Dallas?

Like these beloved sagas, Santiago's TOMORROW THEY WILL KISS will capture your interest, challenge your beliefs and break your heart.

Graciela's coping skills -- in Cuba -- were superb. When she decided to marry the scholarly and recently widowed Ernesto de la Cruz, she wasted no time:


"It's sort of like a shotgun wedding," Imperio said, "except in this case it's the bride who is holding the shotgun."


Then we learn that:


Ernesto didn't make a lot of money, and Graciela wanted things. But things were scarce and the black market was expensive. So she set herself up as a manicurist and was very successful at it, because she rendered the best Cuban half-moons in town. The Cuban half-moon was a pearly-colored crescent painted with precision exactly where the nail met the cuticle. Graciela was masterful at it, an artist. When she did our nails it looked as if all our fingers were smiling.


But few were smiling inside Castro's Cuba. Imperio tells us:


There were those who were desperate to leave the country,
those who hated the people who were leaving the country, and
the rest of us, who were caught in the middle.

People like me were frozen with fear and indecision. We were
not the sort of people who dreamed of a life in other parts
of the country, let alone the world. We were born in Palmagria and, in spite of its problems and defects, we expected to die there, be buried there, and spend the reset of eternity there. That's the way it had always been. Occasionally someone ventured out, driven by some strange desire that no one could understand. But for the most part, we stayed.

It was easier for the wealthy to get out, they had always kept one foot in Cuba and another abroad. It was not unusual for them to have a big house in Cuba and another in Miami Beach. They sent their children to universities in Spain or the United States. They were used to entertaining foreigners who came to visit in yachts and private airplanes.

For the very poor, there was no decision to be made at all.
Very few had the education or even the mentality to consider
going to another country and learning another language. They
could barely get along where they were born. Besides, the new administration was all about them. There were slogans on walls now offering them a brighter future. There were organizations dedicated to their care. Politicos of humble backgrounds, who had risen to prominence only after the Revolution, made fervent speeches, telling the poor that it was time to rise up out of their pitiful lives and take their rightful place in society. Every day these new saints of the people served themselves up as examples of the new success.

You couldn't leave the house without running into some sort
of demonstration. Banners and flags appeared everywhere.
Uniformed men and women became so common that after a
while we hardly took notice of them. They walked around
rigidly, their faces set hard with responsibility. They always saluted us as we walked by. They demanded respect. They were not friendly people, these rebel soldiers. They didn't smile, they didn't dance; it was as if, suddenly, they had stopped being Cubans. As if something hard and harsh had invaded their souls.


TOMORROW THEY WILL KISS is a great read, and I can almost guarantee you will love it. You will love it because in this novel you will find not only yourself, but also your parents,
your cousins, and the friends you grew up with. One of the things I admire about this writer is his ability to make people from an entirely different culture (from mine) seem
just like people I have always known.

And ladies, you are in for a treat, because this is a novel by that rarity in the male-dominated world of great literature: a male writer who truly understands women and
appreciates us in spite of the faults -- if any -- we may have.

Buy this book and read it soon. You will laugh, cry and delight in your discovery of EDUARDO SANTIAGO, a man who is becoming one of the great writers of our time.


--Arlene Sanders



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