Piedra Negra is an isolated village, whose citizens consist mainly of soldiers injured in the revolution that 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 when she wins a national poetry contest, Elena leaves Piedra Negra, and her family, behind for Havana. There she encounters a population adjusting to a new way of life, post-revolution. Navigating black markets and censorship, Elena embraces the city, and her new position as an official poet of Cuba, until she finds herself on the wrong side of the regime. Full of outlandish humor and insights into a contradictory and Kafkaesque world, Medina brings 1960s Cuba to life through the eyes of Elena.
Pablo Medina is the author of sixteen books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and translation. Currently, he is professor in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing and director of the Graduate Writing Program at Emerson College in Boston.
Joan Silber has written eight books of fiction. Her first book, the novel Household Words won the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her other works of fiction are In the City, In My Other Life, Lucky Us, Ideas of Heaven, finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize, The Size of the World, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Prize in Fiction, and Fools, longlisted for the National Book Award and finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her novel, Improvement, won The National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award. She received the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story and is also the author of The Art of Time in Fiction. She’s been the recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her short fiction has been chosen for the O. Henry Prize, Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories.