BARCELONA – Cuban journalist Ana Cabrera Vivanco wants to change the decidedly “narrow view” generally given of her country with her first novel, “Las Horas del Alma” (Hours of the Soul), a gigantic tableau of the last 100 years on the island.
Cabrera Vivanco, exiled in the Spanish city of Tarragona since 2002, told Efe in an interview that her book is not political, “although in Cuba anything written against the system is repressed.”
On the contrary, the author, who achieved a certain notoriety in the year 2000 with her biography of Cervantes Prize laureate Dulce Maria Loynaz, defined it as a wide-ranging story more than 500 pages long with social, historical and psychological elements.
In her novel, published by the Grijalbo company, Cabrera Vivanco penetrates the lives of the fictitious Monteagudo and Falcon families to describe their evolution from the sinking of the Maine to the victory of the Castro revolution.
Love, political commitment, sorrow, disappointment and unmentionable secrets are woven into the story brought to life with such characters as old Angela, the worthless Vicente Falcon, and Agueda Monteagudo, a woman tormented since her youth for failing to marry her one true love.
The writer, born in 1950 to an upper-class family with connections to Spain, said that she has longed to present a different image from that conveyed by the current party line with its assurances that “everything is fine” and that hides “a magnificent past.”
“I wanted to change such a closed vision of the island, to reveal the tragedy of a country with people escaping on rafts and with families separated by a political system,” she said.
The author went deeper into this aspect and said that “Cuba needs a total change in every aspect, because a lot of desperation is being created among the younger generations seeking their future.”
In her opinion, “the worst of all is the damage wrought between different generations of a family, where politics prevails over family ties. That is the most worrying thing for the future. Hopefully all that will change tomorrow, because you carry your nationality in your blood, just as your mother is always part of you.”
She said that “we all have to go down the same road in the face of the monolithic stagnation of state totalitarianism, which does not allow a society to evolve.”
Cuba’s biggest challenge, Cabrera Vivanco said, is “for Cubans to look once more towards a common ideal in order to take the nation forward. But it won’t be easy.”
With regard to her own personal history, she recalled that in the year 2001 she left Cuba to present on the Spanish island of Tenerife her book “La Voz del Silencio” (The Voice of Silence) and some friends in Tarragona invited her to stay in that city.
There she began a new life alone and had to wait more than three years for her daughter and her husband of 36 years to join her.
Cabrera Vivanco also said that she has finished a new story, “Las Cien Voces del Diablo” (The Devil’s One Hundred Voices), which is nothing like this first novel, “so long and with so many characters.” EF