Guillermo Cabrera Infante is one of a group of loosely connected writers that have defined modern fiction for many generations of spanish speakers. The chain extends from the father of all that is modern and uniquely Latin American, Jorge Luis Borges through the boom writers like Julio Cortazar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jose Donoso, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, et al.
The novel that earns him his link in that chain is Tres tristes tigres, a cultural and linguistic tour de force that defines modernity for Cuban literature, but I get ahead of myself...
Cabrera Infante is born the 22nd of April of 1929 in Gibara a small sleepy town in the westmost province of Cuba, Oriente and moves to Havana a place that will forever be a character in his novels in 1941. By 1947, he succumbs to the urge to write and drops out of school, abandoning his dream of being a physician and in 1950 he enrolls in a journalism school in Havana.
By 1952 he has achieved enough visibility and notoriety that he is detained and fined due to the publication of a short story that contained "english profanities". He also becomes vociferous in his opposition to the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista a position that will eventually land him in jail. In 1953 he starts writing movie reviews under the pseudonym G. Cain in a weekly entertainment magazine where he will progress to editor in chief, completing the triunvirate of his passions, journalism, fiction and cinema.
Through the end of the Batista regime and the run up to the revolution, he is very active in the intellectual life of the country, founding the Cinemateca de Cuba that brings many avant garde films to Havana, winning many local prizes for his short stories, etc.
He welcomes and is an active participant in the heady early days of the revolution and is named the director of the Instituto de Cine and the official literary magazine Lunes de Revolucion. In the midst of all this, in 1960 he publishes his first novel, Asi en la paz como en la guerra (In War As In Peace).
In 1962, he is posted to the Cuban embassy in Belgium as a cultural attache. This posting, and the access to both the Castro government, and a cosmopolitan and uncensored view of the world, will ultimately land him in exile. In 1965 he returns to Cuba for his mother's funeral, renounces his diplomatic post and exiles himself in London. He has been since a very vocal and important voice of opposition in exile, without submitting to the main right wing Cuban exile community.
Tres Tristes Tigres is undoubtedly his masterpiece. A playful and deadly serious novel that delineates cuban culture right before the revolution but oddly shies away from embracing it like later works by Severo Sarduy were to do in works such as De donde son los cantantes The work is a linguistic tour de force, filled with typographical devices such as a famous reverse type page purportedly set the way that a character in the novel would like to see it ( see the character is inside the book so to him it is the only page that is not reversed). He satirizes such sacred cows as José Martí and Alejo Carpentier with hilarious yet essentially untranslatable results.
He died of septicemia February 21, 2005, oddly enough, my anniversary date.
I have also discovered that he wrote the screenplay to the underground movie Vanishing Point under the pseudonym of Guillermo Cain (get it?) as well as the script for The Lost City, an Andy García film.
- Vista del amanecer en el trópico
- Tres Tristes Tigres
- La Habana para un infante difunto
- Cuerpos divinos
- Holy Smoke
- La próxima luna
- Delito por bailar chachachá
- Ella cantaba boleros
- La Amazona
- Mi música extremada
Short Stories and Essays
- Así en la paz como en la guerra
- Un oficio del siglo XX
- Exorcismos de Esti(l)o
- Mea Cuba
- Arcadia todas las noches
- Cine o sardina
- Vidas para leerlas
- El libro de las ciudades
- Todo está hecho con espejos
I wrote this as a newbie. nodeshell rescue
was a foreign concept to me, but here you are...