The Guardian newspaper has named two short story collections written by one of UCF’s English professors to the Top 10 must Reads about Cuba, just as relations between Cuba and the United States begin to thaw.
Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés was recognized in the Guardian’s list of ten books to best help understand Cuba. Milanés, an associate professor in the Department of English has been teaching writing and literature for more than 15 years. Born to Cuban parents and raised in New Jersey, Milanés had a different story of Cubans to tell than what was typically depicted.
“I wanted to expand the mainstream idea of what a Cuban is,” said Milanés as she recalled the highly covered Mariel Boatlift in 1980. “They are not all involved in gangs or resemble Tony Montana from Scarface.”
This recognition comes as the United States and Cuba attempt to repair a long history of hostility dating back to Fidel Castro overthrowing the government in 1959 and nationalizing property across the island. For more than half a century, the two counties have had no diplomatic relations. After years of silence, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro have decided to put an end to their country’s longtime hostility and to work towards normalizing relations between the two countries.
Through the fictional characters in her short stories, “Marielitos, Balseros, and other Exiles” and “Oye What I’m Gonna Tell You,” Milanés offers readers an opportunity to better understand the life of those living in Cuban communities in the U.S.
In her short story entitled Dr. Cubanita, readers are introduced to Lidia, a young psychologist. On her way to a conference in Tampa, Lidia reminisces on the events of life that has caused the young doctor to go from living a life of lavish in Miami, to returning to live with her mother in the home that once represented her family’s climb into the middle class. From the separation of her parents, to the downfall of her ex-husband, Sergio, to drugs, Lidia story reveals the triumph of a young Cuban woman.
“Marielitos, Balseros, and other Exiles” and “Oye What I’m Gonna Tell You,” came in as number four and five on the Guardian’s must read list.
“It was such an amazing surprise that I never expected,” said Milanés. The Guardian is the third most read newspaper website, and a recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize. “Oye What I’m Gonna Tell You,” is scheduled to be released to the general public in April.
To view the list of novels visit, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/15/literary-guide-cuba.