Books: Running from the past

Leonardo Padura pens a tale of Cuban Jewry, hidden lives and struggles with identity in a sweeping new novel.

By ELAINE MARGOLIN
April 13, 2017 11:30
Cuba

The streets of Cuba. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Cuban author Leonardo Padura writes with uncanny insight, empathy and brilliance about the struggle many Jews wrestle with trying to find their place in the world as Jews.

Padura is not a Jew, yet seems to understand us and the internal battles we fight; torn between ancient callings and modern temptations. Perhaps this is because he, too, is torn. He has spent his 61 years living in Havana, where he writes daring novels and yet manages somehow to avoid the wrath of the Castro regime. He does this by negotiating and compromising with the powers that be; understanding when to be silent and when he can speak, and avoiding direct confrontations always. His works are richly layered and emotionally charged narratives that speak to his disappointment with the socialist dream he once embraced that has been pulverized into dust.

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