The Sugar Island by Ivonne Lamazares

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Ivonne Lamazares is one of the most original and exciting new voices on the literary scene. Born and raised in Cuba, she writes of her homeland with unmatched authenticity, immediacy, and poetry. The story of a mother and daughter who flee to American shores, THE SUGAR ISLAND depicts a culture in conflict with itself, where the old world chafes against the new and where a parent's desperate grab for freedom has dire consquences for her child. Remarkably, the events and potent emotions the novel evokes take place not today or yesterday, but at the height of Castro's revolution four decades ago.
The story is told in the brave, tough voice of Tanya, a girl on the verge of womanhood, who is at odds with her mother and with the rapidly changing world around her. In the wake of the revolution, Tanya's mother -- passionate and unreliable -- is determined to leave Cuba at all costs. She is also determined to take her reluctant daughter with her. Tanya is unsure of her mother's motives, and equally unsure of her love. When at last they embark on the perilous sea voyage to freedom, they leave behind the ruins of old Havana and a ravaged landscape. What they face in America, though, is far from certain.
In this embattled mother-daughter relationship lie echoes of the conflicts wrenching apart their tiny country. With economical prose and a clear-eyed vision, Lamazares evokes lives full of hope but fraught with obstacles in the face of dramatic change. Her novel is both prescient and remarkably insightful.

About Ivonne Lamazares

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Ivonne Lamazares was born in Cuba in 1962. Her mother died when she was three, & she was raised by her grandparents in Old Havana. She emigrated to Florida at the age of fourteen & currently lives in South Miami with her husband, the poet Steve Kronen, & her daughter. Lamazares is on the faculty of Miami-Dade Community College, where she received an endowed chair for excellence in teaching literature, & her short stories have appeared in "Blue Mesa Review" & "Michigan Quarterly Review." Lamazares was discovered at the Sewanee Writers' Conference when she had written little more than the beginning of "The Sugar Island." Her teachers were so taken with her work that they introduced her to an agent, & soon after, she signed a book contract. About the sudden attention her writing has received, she says, "I still can't explain this. It's like being in a car that's out of control, going somewhere you never expected to go." She lives in South Miami, Florida.
Published September 12, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure. Fiction

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But she knows two things with certainty: she doesn’t want to leave Cuba, and she doesn’t trust her mother.

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Publishers Weekly

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In addition to the mother-daughter conflict, the irony of life in Castro's CubaDdepicted here as a land of food shortages and literacy campaigns, a godless society where people attend mass or believe in voodoo and where a young girl like Tanya cannot summon any faith at allDcomes across clearly i...

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