Cuba’s Damn Procedures (part 1)

Nonardo Perea

Man walking in front of an abandoned book store. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — After reading my colleague Maykel Paneque’s article: Cuba’s Silent Gatekeepers, I thought about my own situation as a storywriter.

I too might be a little paranoid, but sometimes I think that they are trying to keep me hidden in national media, and the worse thing is that they succeed.

Every writer knows what the procedure is to getting a book published in Cuba, you have to win a literary competition, if you don’t then your work will never be visible to anyone.

And a lot of the time, even if you win and publish your book, if those in power don’t want it then you won’t be recognized as a writer either because they just won’t promote you.

I stopped taking part in these competitions a long time ago because I got bored of entering them. You have to take into account the fact that sending a novel to a competition implies expenses, printing is expensive, and generally-speaking, they ask for three physical copies which also cost money.

The saddest thing of all though comes at the award ceremony when you find out that you haven’t been chosen and once the sealed envelope is opened you discover that the winner is a writer who already enjoys recognition in literary circles, but the most terrible thing is that once this prize-winner’s novel is published, you read it and realize that it is just a pile of garbage. And you ask yourself, was that the best thing that was sent in to the competition?

Situations like these make me suspicious of juries, which are certainly the same on many occasions. I don’t trust competitions which ask for pseudonyms and a separate envelope with the author’s details, which I believe can all be altered.

I’m saddened to hear that such injustices are being reported, I know that there must be undiscovered authors, excellent writers, and they aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. We have to realize that the procedure to getting a book published in Cuba is not only not ideal, but much less transparent.

That’s because you have to deal with the jury’s personal tastes, and generally-speaking, they only award what suits them, there are even subjects which make them uncomfortable, and although it might seem incredible in this day and age, subjects of social critique and homoeroticism continue to be taboo for many of those who call themselves modern intellectuals.

Nonardo Perea

Nonardo Perea: I see myself as an observant person and I like to write with sincerity what I think and live first hand. I’m shy and of few words; thus it’s difficult for me to engage in conversation. For that reason, my best tool for communicating is writing. I live in Marianao, Havana and am 40 years old.

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One thought on “Cuba’s Damn Procedures (part 1)

  • If you self-publish, you don’t have to cater to anybody’s “personal tastes.” I don’t know how e.g. Amazon feels about “social critique and homoeroticism,” but I can’t imagine that it would pose a problem as long as you don’t publish anything libelous or pornographic.
    However, there’s no guarantee that anybody’s going to read what you publish …

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