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The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba

Julia Cooke

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Prose: non-fiction, Travel & holiday

A young American journalist shares her experience of living in Havana and offers an evocative and revealing look at Cuba's youth culture

Change looms in Havana, Cuba's capital, a city electric with uncertainty yet cloaked in cliche, 90 miles from U.S. shores and off-limits to most Americans. Journalist Julia Cooke, who lived there at intervals over a period of five years, discovered a dynamic scene: baby-faced anarchists with Mohawks gelled with laundry soap, whiskey-drinking children of the elite, Santeria trainees, pregnant prostitutes, university graduates planning to leave for the first country that will give them a visa. This last generation of Cubans raised under Fidel Castro animate life in a waning era of political stagnation as the rest of the world beckons: waiting out storms at rummy hurricane parties and attending raucous drag cabarets, planning ascendant music careers and black-market business ventures, trying to reconcile the undefined future with the urgent today.Eye-opening and politically prescient, The Other Side of Paradise offers a deep new understanding of a place that has so confounded and intrigued us.

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