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“Have mercy on me, Lord, I am Cuban.” In 1962, Carlos Eire was one of 14,000 children airlifted out of Havana—exiled from his family, his country, and his own childhood by Fidel Castro’s revolution. This stunning memoir is a vibrant and evocative look at Latin America from a child’s unforgettable experience.

Waiting for Snow in Havana is both an exorcism and an ode to a paradise lost. For the Cuba of Carlos’s youth—with its lizards and turquoise seas and sun-drenched siestas—becomes an island of condemnation once a cigar-smoking guerrilla named Fidel Castro ousts President Batista on January 1, 1959. Suddenly the music in the streets sounds like gunfire. Christmas is made illegal, political dissent leads to imprisonment, and too many of Carlos’s friends are leaving Cuba for a place as far away and unthinkable as the United States. Carlos will end up there, too, and fulfill his mother’s dreams by becoming a modern American man—even if his soul remains in the country he left behind.

Narrated with the urgency of a confession, Waiting for Snow in Havana is a eulogy for a native land and a loving testament to the collective spirit of Cubans everywhere.

Topics: Communism

Published: Free Press on
ISBN: 9780743245708
List price: $11.99
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So well written it was like being there!more
Eire's experiences and the writing that eludicates them into vibrancy gained this memoir five stars. The sentences flow from prose to poetic, and he describes the surroundings so well, without dragging the pace down. I didn't know a lot about Cuba during the time of Castro coming into power, but now I understand why Cuban exiles in the UNited States feel so strongly. Definite recommendation.more
Eire's experiences and the writing that eludicates them into vibrancy gained this memoir five stars. The sentences flow from prose to poetic, and he describes the surroundings so well, without dragging the pace down. I didn't know a lot about Cuba during the time of Castro coming into power, but now I understand why Cuban exiles in the UNited States feel so strongly. Definite recommendation.more
Cuba...land of tangerine sunsets and turquoise waves...steamy heat and voodoo curses. I loved reading the memoir of a judge's son who is close to my age but who grew up in very different circumstances. Carlos's first 11 years were the carefree days of a child of means. Days of family gatherings, bike riding, swimming, movies, and tormenting the ubiquitous lizards -- minus half a star for that! The revolution is hinted at from time to time, and like a bruise one can't help touching to see if it still hurts, Carlos returns over and over to those tumultuous times that shaped his years of childhood until he was "expelled from paradise."14,000 children left Cuba without their parents in the early 1960s because they didn't need the visas that took up to a year to obtain. The idea was that the parents would soon follow them to a reunion in the U.S. These youngsters left their country and families carrying only two sets of clothes, a hat, and a book..."the only hint of mercy." It was an abrupt transition from life in Cuba to the U.S. Almost four years in orphanages and foster homes passed until Carlos and his brother Tony were able to join their mother in Chicago:..."As the train began to roll past the steel mills and oil refineries on the South Side of Chicago, it seemed we had passed through the gates of hell. We saw acres and acres of smokestacks shooting out flames, huge twisting labyrinths of pipes, mazes of twisting stairs, giant spheres, and colossal storage tanks. But it was the flames that make me reel. Big, noisy flames. Balls of flame. Jets. Plumes. Flares. Soft, dancing flames that swayed in the wind and made the chimneys look like giant candles at Satan's dinner table. Fountains of fire. Satan's Versailles." (195)Carlos writes with pathos and passion about his memories of his homeland - a country that is part of him but still a place he will not visit while it is under the oppressive Castro regime. I guess in his case it's true that you can't go home again.more
Biographical essays illustrating the privileged life of the wealthy in pre-Castro Havana by an American immigrant who is now a religious studies professor at Yale. The essays are linked by the sense of anarchy in a (typical?) boy's life: destroying things, acting aggressively towards friends and family. I couldn't relate to this. There are number of insights which struck me: a chance comment by Carlos' nanny gives him the misconception that he will turn black if he eats dark colored foods, when in fact the flight from Havana to Florida (at age 11) was much more effective in that transformation. Lots of religious beliefs portending his future career? Very well written with interesting material.more
Subtitled “Confessions of a Cuban Boy,” this memoir first caught my eye because of the great title, then because it was written by one of the boys separated from his family during the early reign of Fidel Castro, during the Operation Pedro Pan exodus, an attempt to save children of those deemed against the Revolution, those most in danger.The book almost lost me when the author along with other little boys, cruel as children often can be, started torturing lizards, symbolic of much to come. I expected a typical memoir but that is certainly not what I got. The writing is not linear, the author speaks to us readers directly, and frequently gives hints of what is to come, promises to tell us more later. The style is quirky and was a bit disconcerting to me until I gave myself over to the author's story.The child, Carlos, most often refers to his father as Louis XVI, as his father claimed to be in a former life, and his mother as Marie Antoinette, although she did not claim to be a reincarnation. His father was a judge and an attorney, one of the privileged ones under Batista. Childhood in Havana is painted in pictures vibrant and astounding, family and friends all coming to life. Very little of the book deals with Carlos or his family after Carlos was separated from his brother, the only person he knew in the United States, as soon as they landed.Some examples of the author's style of prose:“Crotons of all kinds. Giant philodendrons. Caladiums. Flowers. Palms in all shapes and sizes. Especially royal palms, so tall, so regal. So Cuban. Palms that pierce my heart and entrails to this very day.”“I was one of the lucky ones. Fidel couldn't obliterate me as he did all the other children, slicing off their heads over so slowly, and replacing them with fearful, slavish copies of his own. New heads held in place by two bolts, like Boris Karloff's in Frankenstein, one bolt forged from fear, the other from illusion.”“If Adam and Eve hadn't screwed up so badly, and their children had been able to play in the Garden of Eden, they would have laughed just like we did that day, when we threw rocks at one another on the edge of the turquoise sea.”“To understand Fidel you have to be out of your mind. To live with the memories, too, it helps to have lucid moments that others mistake for delusions.”This lyrical memoir is written with a strange mix of philosophy, religion, symbolism, and an adult's remembrance of his childhood: family, Havana, and the politics of the day. It is serious, touching, beautiful, funny, and entertaining. I loved it.more
I didn't actually finish this but I still really enjoyed what I read. Written by a scholar, this is the memoir of his childhood in pre-Castro Cuba. At the age of 11 his parents shipped him and his brother to America and that was the last time he saw his father. He has a very entertaining and captivating writing style. The only reason I didn't finish is because apparently I've become completely shallow lately. I need fluffy fiction. I do hope to finish this once I become an adult again :)more
The blurb on the back of my copy of this book says that it both an exorcism and an ode to a paradise lost: Mr. Eire's memories of his boyhood as a member of the Cuban upper classes, the wrenching transformation of his country after Castro's revolution and his emmigration to America as part of an airlift of 14,000 children dubbed Operation Pedro Pan.As one who has a love of magical realism in Latin American fiction, this book is magical realism come to life as the author talks about his parents past lives as the King & Queen of France, as he sees Jesus through his dining room window and ponders the horrors of the lizards that are everywhere in Havana. Many of these images can be ascribed to memories that are hazy with time and that dwell in early childhood. Are they really memories or are they memories of what has been told in the family over and over again until they seem real? It really doesn't matter as the author's writing is so compelling that I could not put this book down.more
Wonderful description of a little boy's life in the 1950's with the author's experiences in Havana, Cuba mirroring my husband's childhood in Springfield MA. Eire's description of rocks as toys, grandparents and aunts in residence, fascination with incendiary devices such re fireworks, even the classic clown costume, are a few of the universal rights of childhood in the 50's.more
Wonderful description of a little boy's life in the 1950's with the author's experiences in Havana, Cuba mirroring my husband's childhood in Springfield MA. Eire's description of rocks as toys, grandparents and aunts in residence, fascination with incendiary devices such re fireworks, even the classic clown costume, are a few of the universal rights of childhood in the 50's.more
Wonderful description of a little boy's life in the 1950's with the author's experiences in Havana, Cuba mirroring my husband's childhood in Springfield MA. Eire's description of rocks as toys, grandparents and aunts in residence, fascination with incendiary devices such re fireworks, even the classic clown costume, are a few of the universal rights of childhood in the 50's.more
Carlos Eire wrote an extremely well written memoir. He write's about his childhood in Havana. He gives us vivid pictures of Havana at the time and of the colorful inhabitants of his neighborhood. The world of Havana through the eyes of a child. The wide eyed wonder in which we see this marvelous world called Havana, makes us stop and wonder. Is this a memoir or novel. The writting of child like innocence is so real. How can we remember it. Of course, this is about Mr. Erie's childhood, during the 50's and 60's. So we also get to see the growing darkness and fear brought about by the great revolution brought about by Fidel Castro...and how all their lives were changed. It will also let you see why so many Cuban's fled that beautiful island for the USA. Most hoping it would only be a temporary seperation from family and homeland. I not only understood what life was like both before and after Castro...I could actually understand the emotion he felt as a child. And now as an adult looking back upon his past. This is a great read.more
Carlos Eire wrote an extremely well written memoir. He write's about his childhood in Havana. He gives us vivid pictures of Havana at the time and of the colorful inhabitants of his neighborhood. The world of Havana through the eyes of a child. The wide eyed wonder in which we see this marvelous world called Havana, makes us stop and wonder. Is this a memoir or novel. The writting of child like innocence is so real. How can we remember it. Of course, this is about Mr. Erie's childhood, during the 50's and 60's. So we also get to see the growing darkness and fear brought about by the great revolution brought about by Fidel Castro...and how all their lives were changed. It will also let you see why so many Cuban's fled that beautiful island for the USA. Most hoping it would only be a temporary seperation from family and homeland. I not only understood what life was like both before and after Castro...I could actually understand the emotion he felt as a child. And now as an adult looking back upon his past. This is a great read.more
Read all 18 reviews

Reviews

So well written it was like being there!more
Eire's experiences and the writing that eludicates them into vibrancy gained this memoir five stars. The sentences flow from prose to poetic, and he describes the surroundings so well, without dragging the pace down. I didn't know a lot about Cuba during the time of Castro coming into power, but now I understand why Cuban exiles in the UNited States feel so strongly. Definite recommendation.more
Eire's experiences and the writing that eludicates them into vibrancy gained this memoir five stars. The sentences flow from prose to poetic, and he describes the surroundings so well, without dragging the pace down. I didn't know a lot about Cuba during the time of Castro coming into power, but now I understand why Cuban exiles in the UNited States feel so strongly. Definite recommendation.more
Cuba...land of tangerine sunsets and turquoise waves...steamy heat and voodoo curses. I loved reading the memoir of a judge's son who is close to my age but who grew up in very different circumstances. Carlos's first 11 years were the carefree days of a child of means. Days of family gatherings, bike riding, swimming, movies, and tormenting the ubiquitous lizards -- minus half a star for that! The revolution is hinted at from time to time, and like a bruise one can't help touching to see if it still hurts, Carlos returns over and over to those tumultuous times that shaped his years of childhood until he was "expelled from paradise."14,000 children left Cuba without their parents in the early 1960s because they didn't need the visas that took up to a year to obtain. The idea was that the parents would soon follow them to a reunion in the U.S. These youngsters left their country and families carrying only two sets of clothes, a hat, and a book..."the only hint of mercy." It was an abrupt transition from life in Cuba to the U.S. Almost four years in orphanages and foster homes passed until Carlos and his brother Tony were able to join their mother in Chicago:..."As the train began to roll past the steel mills and oil refineries on the South Side of Chicago, it seemed we had passed through the gates of hell. We saw acres and acres of smokestacks shooting out flames, huge twisting labyrinths of pipes, mazes of twisting stairs, giant spheres, and colossal storage tanks. But it was the flames that make me reel. Big, noisy flames. Balls of flame. Jets. Plumes. Flares. Soft, dancing flames that swayed in the wind and made the chimneys look like giant candles at Satan's dinner table. Fountains of fire. Satan's Versailles." (195)Carlos writes with pathos and passion about his memories of his homeland - a country that is part of him but still a place he will not visit while it is under the oppressive Castro regime. I guess in his case it's true that you can't go home again.more
Biographical essays illustrating the privileged life of the wealthy in pre-Castro Havana by an American immigrant who is now a religious studies professor at Yale. The essays are linked by the sense of anarchy in a (typical?) boy's life: destroying things, acting aggressively towards friends and family. I couldn't relate to this. There are number of insights which struck me: a chance comment by Carlos' nanny gives him the misconception that he will turn black if he eats dark colored foods, when in fact the flight from Havana to Florida (at age 11) was much more effective in that transformation. Lots of religious beliefs portending his future career? Very well written with interesting material.more
Subtitled “Confessions of a Cuban Boy,” this memoir first caught my eye because of the great title, then because it was written by one of the boys separated from his family during the early reign of Fidel Castro, during the Operation Pedro Pan exodus, an attempt to save children of those deemed against the Revolution, those most in danger.The book almost lost me when the author along with other little boys, cruel as children often can be, started torturing lizards, symbolic of much to come. I expected a typical memoir but that is certainly not what I got. The writing is not linear, the author speaks to us readers directly, and frequently gives hints of what is to come, promises to tell us more later. The style is quirky and was a bit disconcerting to me until I gave myself over to the author's story.The child, Carlos, most often refers to his father as Louis XVI, as his father claimed to be in a former life, and his mother as Marie Antoinette, although she did not claim to be a reincarnation. His father was a judge and an attorney, one of the privileged ones under Batista. Childhood in Havana is painted in pictures vibrant and astounding, family and friends all coming to life. Very little of the book deals with Carlos or his family after Carlos was separated from his brother, the only person he knew in the United States, as soon as they landed.Some examples of the author's style of prose:“Crotons of all kinds. Giant philodendrons. Caladiums. Flowers. Palms in all shapes and sizes. Especially royal palms, so tall, so regal. So Cuban. Palms that pierce my heart and entrails to this very day.”“I was one of the lucky ones. Fidel couldn't obliterate me as he did all the other children, slicing off their heads over so slowly, and replacing them with fearful, slavish copies of his own. New heads held in place by two bolts, like Boris Karloff's in Frankenstein, one bolt forged from fear, the other from illusion.”“If Adam and Eve hadn't screwed up so badly, and their children had been able to play in the Garden of Eden, they would have laughed just like we did that day, when we threw rocks at one another on the edge of the turquoise sea.”“To understand Fidel you have to be out of your mind. To live with the memories, too, it helps to have lucid moments that others mistake for delusions.”This lyrical memoir is written with a strange mix of philosophy, religion, symbolism, and an adult's remembrance of his childhood: family, Havana, and the politics of the day. It is serious, touching, beautiful, funny, and entertaining. I loved it.more
I didn't actually finish this but I still really enjoyed what I read. Written by a scholar, this is the memoir of his childhood in pre-Castro Cuba. At the age of 11 his parents shipped him and his brother to America and that was the last time he saw his father. He has a very entertaining and captivating writing style. The only reason I didn't finish is because apparently I've become completely shallow lately. I need fluffy fiction. I do hope to finish this once I become an adult again :)more
The blurb on the back of my copy of this book says that it both an exorcism and an ode to a paradise lost: Mr. Eire's memories of his boyhood as a member of the Cuban upper classes, the wrenching transformation of his country after Castro's revolution and his emmigration to America as part of an airlift of 14,000 children dubbed Operation Pedro Pan.As one who has a love of magical realism in Latin American fiction, this book is magical realism come to life as the author talks about his parents past lives as the King & Queen of France, as he sees Jesus through his dining room window and ponders the horrors of the lizards that are everywhere in Havana. Many of these images can be ascribed to memories that are hazy with time and that dwell in early childhood. Are they really memories or are they memories of what has been told in the family over and over again until they seem real? It really doesn't matter as the author's writing is so compelling that I could not put this book down.more
Wonderful description of a little boy's life in the 1950's with the author's experiences in Havana, Cuba mirroring my husband's childhood in Springfield MA. Eire's description of rocks as toys, grandparents and aunts in residence, fascination with incendiary devices such re fireworks, even the classic clown costume, are a few of the universal rights of childhood in the 50's.more
Wonderful description of a little boy's life in the 1950's with the author's experiences in Havana, Cuba mirroring my husband's childhood in Springfield MA. Eire's description of rocks as toys, grandparents and aunts in residence, fascination with incendiary devices such re fireworks, even the classic clown costume, are a few of the universal rights of childhood in the 50's.more
Wonderful description of a little boy's life in the 1950's with the author's experiences in Havana, Cuba mirroring my husband's childhood in Springfield MA. Eire's description of rocks as toys, grandparents and aunts in residence, fascination with incendiary devices such re fireworks, even the classic clown costume, are a few of the universal rights of childhood in the 50's.more
Carlos Eire wrote an extremely well written memoir. He write's about his childhood in Havana. He gives us vivid pictures of Havana at the time and of the colorful inhabitants of his neighborhood. The world of Havana through the eyes of a child. The wide eyed wonder in which we see this marvelous world called Havana, makes us stop and wonder. Is this a memoir or novel. The writting of child like innocence is so real. How can we remember it. Of course, this is about Mr. Erie's childhood, during the 50's and 60's. So we also get to see the growing darkness and fear brought about by the great revolution brought about by Fidel Castro...and how all their lives were changed. It will also let you see why so many Cuban's fled that beautiful island for the USA. Most hoping it would only be a temporary seperation from family and homeland. I not only understood what life was like both before and after Castro...I could actually understand the emotion he felt as a child. And now as an adult looking back upon his past. This is a great read.more
Carlos Eire wrote an extremely well written memoir. He write's about his childhood in Havana. He gives us vivid pictures of Havana at the time and of the colorful inhabitants of his neighborhood. The world of Havana through the eyes of a child. The wide eyed wonder in which we see this marvelous world called Havana, makes us stop and wonder. Is this a memoir or novel. The writting of child like innocence is so real. How can we remember it. Of course, this is about Mr. Erie's childhood, during the 50's and 60's. So we also get to see the growing darkness and fear brought about by the great revolution brought about by Fidel Castro...and how all their lives were changed. It will also let you see why so many Cuban's fled that beautiful island for the USA. Most hoping it would only be a temporary seperation from family and homeland. I not only understood what life was like both before and after Castro...I could actually understand the emotion he felt as a child. And now as an adult looking back upon his past. This is a great read.more
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