Cuban Fiestas


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Roberto González Echevarría

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A luminous history of Cuba’s most dynamic and defining rituals and the ever-improvisational character of Cuban culture

In the Cuban town of Sagua la Grande, a young Roberto González Echevarría peers out the window of his family home on the morning of the Nochebuena fiesta as preparations begin for the slaughter of a feast day pig. The author recalls “watching them at a distance, though thinking, fearing, that once I grew older I would have to participate in the whole event.” Now an acclaimed scholar of Latin American literature, González Echevarría returns to the rituals that defined his young life in Cuban Fiestas. Drawing from art, literature, film, and even the national sport of baseball, he vividly reveals the fiesta as a dynamic force of both destruction and renewal in the life of a people.

Roberto González Echevarría masterfully exposes the distinctive elements of the fiesta cubana that give depth and coherence to more than two centuries of Cuban cultural life. Reaching back to nineteenth-century traditions of Cuban art and literature, and augmenting them, in the twentieth, with the arts of narrative, the esthetic performances of sport and entertainment in nightclubs, on the baseball diamond, and in movie theaters, Cuban Fiestas renders the lilting strains of the fiesta and drum beats of the passage of time as keys to understanding the dynamic quality of Cuban culture. González Echevarría’s explorations are also illuminated by autobiographical vignettes that unveil the ever-shifting impact of the fiesta on the author’s own story of exile and return.

Roberto González Echevarría is Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literature at Yale. He is author of The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball, as well as major studies of Cervantes, Carpentier, García Márquez, and Sarduy.

"A jewel of a book, written by a Renaissance man. At once learned and passionate, Cuban Fiestas is a meditation on art and its engagement with time and place, those two vectors that intersect in our minds and hearts and determine who we are."—Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana

“Roberto González Echevarría is the leading critic of Hispanic literature—American and Iberian—now living.  His synthesis of contemporary critical modes with the classical and romantic traditions of interpretation is original and influential.  As a mediator between Spanish language and English language literatures, he is beyond comparison.”—Harold Bloom

“Roberto González Echevarría's critical work is monumental. Polemical and lucid, it is among those that have most contributed to the renewal of Latin American criticism over the past thirty years.”—Edmundo Paz Soldán, author of Turing’s Delirium

"In Cuban Fiestas, Roberto González Echevarría shows that the fiesta cubana, as represented in classic paintings, memorialized in Cuban novels both early and late, re-enacted in nightclubs and on film, and even performed on the field of dreams of Cuba’s national sport of baseball, is a presence whose force, despite history and within history, stands tall and prevails."—Rolena Adorno author The Polemics of Possession in Spanish American Narrative

"This book shows us the exhilarating extravaganza of Cuba’s culture…"—Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman

"This combination of personal anecdote and traditional literary criticism makes for interesting reading. The book is comprehensive, providing an encyclopedia account of Cuban fiestas. . . . Exciting and well researched, this book is a must for those interested in the Caribbean and Cuba."—R. Ocasio, CHOICE

“A magisterial, multi-layered overview of the subject by the distinguished Cuban-born professor of Hispanic and comparative literature at Yale.”
“A rich feast of eclectic fiestas drawn from Cuban history, literature, religion, art, film, theatre, music, dance and sport, and garnishes the whole with personal anecdote.”—John Moran, Irish Times
ISBN: 9780300177886
Publication Date: February 21, 2012
376 pages, 5 7/8 x 9 1/16
4 b/w + 17 color illus.
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