Cuban literature to be discussed at Norway library

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NORWAY — Norway Memorial Library will host a “Let’s Talk About It” series of book discussions called “So Near and So Far: Cuba Through Its Literature,” beginning Wednesday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. The program is provided by the Maine Humanities Council’s Harriet P. Henry Center for the Book in cooperation with Maine State Library.

The four books of the series will explore the history, romance, political turmoil, spirit and cultural riches of Cuba. Readers will come to see how much Cubans and Americans have in common and how the two societies differ.

Maine and the Cuban city of Trinidad have a connection extending as far back as the 19th century, when Maine ships carried lumber, ice and potatoes to Cuba to exchange for sugar, salt and rum. Granite blocks used as ballast in the ships were left in Trinidad, where the streets are now paved with Maine granite.

All discussions in the series will be facilitated by Allen Wells, professor of history and Latin American studies at Bowdoin College.

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At the first meeting, participants will discuss “Biography of a Runaway Slave” by Miguel Barnet. Barnet presents the narrative of 105-year-old Esteban Montejo, who lived as a slave in the sugar fields, as a fugitive in the wilderness and as a soldier in the Cuban War of Independence, and who ultimately lived to see the Cuban revolution’s promise of education and medical care, including a nursing home where he was being interviewed.

The book was chosen for the series because the runaway slave’s life story introduces the reader to multidimensional cultural details about slavery and slave populations erased in general discussions of slavery. Furthermore, it is one of the few accounts that exist of Latin American slavery from the point of view of the slaves.

On Tuesday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m., readers will discuss “In the Cold of the Malecon,” by Antonio Jose Ponte.

“Dreaming in Cuban,” by Christina Garcia, will be the focus of the discussion at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 20. The final book will be “Havana Red,” by Leonardo Padura Fuentes, to be discussed at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 4.

Books are available for loan from Norway Memorial Library. For more information or to register for the series, visit the Information Desk at the library, view the library’s Web site at www.norway.lib.me.us or call 743-5309.

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