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Cuban Currency

The Dollar and “Special Period” Fiction

2007
Author:

Esther Whitfield

Cuban Currency

Explores the nostalgic fetishization of Cuban culture

Cuban Currency is the first book to address the effects on Cuban literature of the country’s spectacular opening to foreign markets that marked the end of the twentieth century. Exploring the work of Zoé Valdés, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Antonio José Ponte, and others, Esther Whitfield draws out writers’ engagements with the troublesome commodification of Cuban identity.

Cuban Currency is a timely analysis that will become the definitive book on Cuban literature during the 1990s.

José Quiroga, author of Cuban Palimpsests

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, during an economic crisis termed its “special period in times of peace,” Cuba began to court the capitalist world for the first time since its 1959 revolution. With the U.S. dollar instated as domestic currency, the island seemed suddenly accessible to foreign consumers, and their interest in its culture boomed.

Cuban Currency is the first book to address the effects on Cuban literature of the country’s spectacular opening to foreign markets that marked the end of the twentieth century. Based on interviews and archival research in Havana, Esther Whitfield argues that writers have both challenged and profited from new transnational markets for their work, with far-reaching literary and ideological implications. Whitfield examines money and cross-cultural economic relations as they are inscribed in Cuban fiction. Exploring the work of Zoé Valdés, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Antonio José Ponte, and others, she draws out writers’ engagements with the troublesome commodification of Cuban identity.

Confronting the tourist and publishing industries’ roles in the trans-formation of the Cuban revolution into commercial capital, Whitfield identifies a body of fiction peculiarly attuned to the material and political challenges of the “special period.”

Cuban Currency

Esther Whitfield is assistant professor of comparative literature at Brown University, where she teaches Latin American, Caribbean, and European literature. She is editor of a collection of Antonio José Ponte's fiction, Un arte de hacer ruinas, and coeditor, with Jacqueline Loss, of New Short Fiction from Cuba.

Cuban Currency

Cuban Currency is a timely analysis that will become the definitive book on Cuban literature during the 1990s.

José Quiroga, author of Cuban Palimpsests

Cuban Currency is a thought-provoking intervention into one of the most complex and tumultuous periods in Cuban history. It lucidly presents the interconnected economic, political, social, and cross-cultural dimensions of Cuban fiction in the 1990s, while also offering innovative insights into the far-reaching local and global implications of this interplay. ... Cuban Currency is also an invaluable and timely contribution to the study of Cuban cultural history.

The Americas