A “Dirty Book” About Cuban Reality

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

HAVANA TIMES — Today, I got a hold of a book by the Cuban comedy group Nos y Otros. Published by Santa Clara’s Capiro publishing house in 1998, this “dirty book” (as the volume is titled) gathers a collection of stories driven by clever and scathing social critique.

Its authors, Eduardo del Llano and Luis Felipe Calvo, delve into such sensitive issues as the abuse of power, false unity, repression, censorship, corruption, despair, bureaucracy – in short, the whole series of problems Cuba faced in the 1990s.

What prompted me to write about these stories, however, is the fact they continue to reflect Cuban reality quite accurately.

The stories create an absurd atmosphere which draws continuously from ironic and parodic statements, a world where not even the nation’s lofty history (The Diary of a Mambi Soldier), or renowned figures such as Mendelev (When Great Men Were Children), are spared.

I am told the anti-establishment and highly critical nature of the book stirred up some controversy when the volume was first published – a phenomenon which perhaps confirms a number of the situations the book describes.

Without a doubt, the fear of reflecting on the country’s ills and vital problems that impoverish the fabric of society was sown in our minds long ago, and very few people have dared uproot it.

Because of this, I believe that, far from being a “dirty book”, this text is a lucid and transparent assessment of our reality, a reality characterized by a notable absence of critical and daring voices.

 


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