Breathe is a collection that explores the heart of Fidel Castro-era Cuba; an outsider’s look that is balanced by a weight of empathy to illuminate truths that lie couched between the island’s propaganda and the Western media’s portrayal. Characters from Europe and the USA in Swimming, Taxi and Sabbatical seem to want to hold on to the indulgences that their countries offer them, while praising Cubans for the more abstemious lives they lead and seeking to sample what the locals experience; in Siempre Luchando, I Never See Them Cry and The Party, romantic liaisons strengthen or buckle under the strain of the minute exploitations that result from the assumptions one makes about the other; the seedy sexual aggression of Luca’s Trip to Havana is undercut by the subtle yet intense lust of Breathe; while Leaving Cuba, with its closing image of Havana’s night sky, is as eloquently balanced a tale of the lives of everyday Cubans as you will read in a long while – whichever path one takes, something is lost. As Aida Bahr, winner of Cuba’s Premio de la Critica Literaria says, “relying more on subtleties than on drama, [Segal] portrays the tensions and struggles, but also the joy and warmth, that fill Cubans’ lives.
As it says in the blurb Breathe is a collection of short stories set in Cuba between 2000 and 2004 by Leila Segal.
Breathe is a book perfect to read in one sitting or split up in several sittings depending on your mood. One short story is a perfect companion for your coffee break
I have not read many short stories collections over the past couple of years. To be honest like a few other bloggers and reviewers I prefer to get stuck into a full length book where I get to know all the characters their back grounds, locations and what makes them tick. But having said that I really enjoyed this collection they were detailed and thought provoking and did not leave me wanting more apart from Leila Segal’s next book.
I also loved reading about Cuba and in fact I have now passed my book to a work colleague who is visiting Cuba for 3 weeks next week I am sure she will love and also leave a glowing review
5 of 5 Stars