22 July 2006
Habana Babilonia: Cuban Samizdat
Staying on the Cuban theme for a moment, the country does not have much of a tradition of samizdat publishing. This may be because many of the anti-socialist elements have been forced into exile, or it could be because in spite of the popular myth, the country tends not to censor all that much.
A good example of this is Habana Babilonia, by Amir Valle, which was circulating in Havana, either in manuscript form, or on 3.5" disks, last year. The man who told me about it insisted on sending me my copy through via e-mail, since he said that it might be risky to take a paper copy out of the country.
Checking the internet when I got back to Mexico, I could find no trace of this work, and e-mails to various people turned up no further information. Now the manuscript has been published in Argentina under the title Jineteras. Furthermore, it is available as a .pdf download from this site.
The work deals with prostitution in Havana during the Special Period that followed the collapse of the USSR. Like most works in Spanish, it never fails to use ten words when one will do instead, but it is a good read for all that.
If anybody wants a copy of the original samizdat version that circulated in Cuba last year, all they have to do is drop me a line.