Unmasking Lesbian Cuba: Exiled Cuban Novelist Zoe Valdes Talks about Dear First Love, Her Tough Novel of Passionate Women in Castro's Cuba. (Books)

By Bolonik, Kera | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), October 15, 2002 | Go to article overview

Unmasking Lesbian Cuba: Exiled Cuban Novelist Zoe Valdes Talks about Dear First Love, Her Tough Novel of Passionate Women in Castro's Cuba. (Books)


Bolonik, Kera, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


"To identify as gay or lesbian in Cuba," according to Zoe Valdes, a Cuban novelist and poet who now lives in exile, "is to declare political dissidence. It is equivalent to publishing a manifesto against the government." Though she's heterosexual, Valdes is just the woman to take that challenge. "My brother is gay, my sister's a lesbian, and me, I love the whole world," she says. Gustavo, her brother, translates from Spanish as Valdes takes a sip from her frappuccino on one of New York City's hottest summer afternoons.

She flashes Gustavo a smile, looking at him affectionately with her deep-green eyes as she feeds him her next line. It's an inside joke between them, and they laugh with the intimacy of kinship and the relief of distance from the subject at hand. Gustavo is at the tail end of a giggle when he translates what she said: "In Cuba the gathering of more than three people is considered a conspiracy. But the gathering of three or four gays and lesbians is considered an American invasion."

There is no American invasion in Valdes's astonishing new novel, Dear First Love (translated from the Spanish by Andrew Hurley, HarperCollins, $23.95)--her third to be published in English. But based on this joke, it comes awfully close by Castro's standards, with two lesbians as the main characters. But Valdes will not let anything compromise her writing. At one point Valdes came this close to being punished for signing a book contract with a French publisher without the permission of the government--one of the "crimes" that landed gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in jail. "When I lived in Cuba," she tells me, "I didn't even know he'd been in jail. That's how restrictive they were with information."

Keeping Valdes under wraps would not only deprive readers, but it would do a tremendous disservice to Cuban culture. For reading Valdes's fiction is like feeling the pulse of Cuba: We encounter a Havana throbbing with creative, erotic, emotional, and intellectual energy, forces that intensify in the face of adversity. This is the Havana of her memory, the city of her birth in 1959--the same year Castro came to power. It's the city that at once inspired and impeded her writing career while she was living there. It is the city she left behind eight years ago when she went to live in Paris, where she is now finally free to explore the many idiosyncrasies of Cuban life in print. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Unmasking Lesbian Cuba: Exiled Cuban Novelist Zoe Valdes Talks about Dear First Love, Her Tough Novel of Passionate Women in Castro's Cuba. (Books)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.