Cover image for Ay, Cuba! : a socio-erotic journey
Ay, Cuba! : a socio-erotic journey
Codrescu, Andrei, 1946-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
206 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), map ; 24 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F1765.3 .C63 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A National Public Radio reporter offers a selection of interviews with people of Cuba, from prostitutes to architects, which, combined with photographs, give a view of a fascinating and lively country.

Author Notes

Romanian-born poet and essayist Andrei Codrescu, who also utilizes the pen names Betty Laredo and Maria Parfeni, emigrated to the United States in 1966. Codrescu earned a B.A. at the University of Bucharest, and has taught at numerous academic institutions including Johns Hopkins, the University of Baltimore, and Louisiana State University.

Codrescu worked for National Public Radio as a commentator and has been featured on ABC News' Nightline. Some of Codrescu's short stories and novels include his first poetry collection, License to Carry a Gun and a memoir entitled In America's Shoe.

Throughout the years, Codrescu has been awarded many honors including the Big Table Poetry Award, General Electric Foundation Poetry Prize, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships for poetry, editing, and radio.

His titles include The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess, The Poetry Lesson, and Whatever Gets You through the Night: A Story of Sheherezade and the Arabian Entertainments.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

What was supposed to be the big news story of January 1997 was Pope John Paul II's trip to Cuba. Shortly before that visit, prolific NPR commentator Codrescu headed south, to see how the tiny island and its people were faring. Other news stories have preoccupied the media for the past two years; still, given the proposed (glacially slow) changes in U.S. policy (a baseball series with the Baltimore Orioles in the U.S.?), Ay, Cuba! is timely. And Codrescu, who grew up in rigidly Stalinist Romania but got to the U.S. in time for the '60s, is wary enough of both communist and capitalist orthodoxies to make his observations both instructive and entertaining. From Santeria rituals and interviews with architects, writers, hustlers, and ordinary folk to erotic adventures on the beach and in Havana nightclubs, Codrescu and his compadres come closer to capturing the complexity of near-millennium Cuba than the sedate reportage of the mainstream media or the agenda-driven politicking of the proponents and opponents of current U.S. policy. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

National Public Radio commentator and house cynic Codrescu escaped communist Romania at age 19 and has had few kind words for the Soviet system since. Who better, then, to suss out the condition of the great bearded Red and his country? "I wanted to go to Cuba," writes Codrescu, "because I wanted to see for myself a decomposing ideology." The book takes the form of an ironic travelogue-cum-report from the front. Cuba‘still embargoed by the United States but bereft of its former benefactor, the Soviet Union‘has been forced to transform its entire economy into a black-market haven for Western tourists. Fidel Castro turns a blind eye to all the Yanquis in his midst, maintaining his revolutionary fervor while his people starve, flee or hustle a buck. Codrescu and his gang‘a photographer, an NPR producer and a former Nicaraguan revolutionary‘encounter street hustlers, prostitutes, visionary bureaucrats, Santería practitioners, good and bad food, plenty of cigars and lots of rum as they peel away the Travel & Leisure veneer to discover the real Cuba. Each chapter is prefaced with an "exquisite corpse," a surreal group poem, composed by the members of the party; these, along with the photographs, and the stories of the many Cuban women he encounters, particularly a doctor whom he romances for a day (hence the subtitle), add considerable immediacy to the story (which was originally reported on NPR). Codrescu turns out to be more sympathetic, although no less cutting, than one might expect. He admits that "I still have an irrational nostalgia for Stalinism," which he describes as "a puppy-warm lie spread over everything like a perfumed shroud over a maggoty corpse." B&w and color photos. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Codrescu, famed writer, National Public Radio personality, and exile from Communist Romania, offers a surprisingly upbeat view of Castro's Cuba. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.