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"A literary triumph." --NBC News
A love story steeped in political satire, poetry, and the lightest touches of magical realism, Medina has created a bold, funny narrative with an uncanny heroine at its core: Elena of Piedra Negra, Cuba.
Piedra Negra is an isolated village, whose citizens consist mainly of soldiers injured in the revolution who pass the time drinking a firewater so intense, all hallucinate, and most never recover. The firewater distiller's daughter Elena longs to be a poet, and after a chance encounter with Daniel Arcilla, Cuba's most important poet, Elena wins a national poetry prize and leaves Piedra Negra behind for Havana.
There she encounters a population adjusting to a new way of life, post-revolution: there are spies and secret meetings, black marketeers, and censorship. Full of outlandish humor and insights into an often contradictory and kafkaesque regime, Medina brings 1960s Cuba to life through the eyes of Elena.
About the Author
Pablo Medina is the author of eighteen books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and translation, among them The Island Kingdom (poems, Hanging Loose, 2015); the novels Cubop City Blues (Grove Press, 2012) and The Cigar Roller (Grove, 2005), and the newest English version of Alejo Carpentier's seminal novel The Kingdom of This World (FSG Classics, 2017). Medina's work has appeared in several languages, among them Spanish, French, German, and Arabic, and in periodicals and magazines throughout the world. He was a member of the AWP board of directors from 2002-2007, serving as president in 2005-2006. Winner of numerous awards, among them grants from the Rockefeller and Oscar B. Cintas foundations, the state arts councils of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the NEA, the Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Fund, and others, Medina was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2012. Currently, he lives in Vermont and teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.