Castro's communist regime gained control of Cuba in 1959, sparking a surge of immigration to the United States, particularly Miami, as refugees sought a better life. But for many, Cuba will always be home. The island's stories pass from refugee to refugee, immigrant to grandchild, mingling hope for the future with grief for what's lost. Yet these stories also pass down a deep, unconscious desire for the unattainable, which often results in fractured relationships and a loss of purpose for both young and old. Grieving for Guava revels in the unbroken ties between past and future, Havana and Miami, and recounts the unintended generational costs of immigration. Ten stories explore the lives of Cuban refugees in Miami as they grapple with a longing for the past and a fervent need to move forward. Spanning six decades of the Cuban exile, these stories lay bare a collective struggle to overcome the destabilizing effects of migration and to reassemble splintered identities: A journalist returns to the island for a childhood toy. An investment banker leaves Miami to open a bookstore near the Malecon. A girl with cerebral palsy attempts to swim across the ocean to reach her lost home. Cecilia Fernandez artfully weaves together the complicated lives of her characters to produce an overarching sense of yearning for the past, transforming grief into an even more powerful force: communion.
Grieving for Guava captures the heartache and hope that are common in the immigrant experience, adding a dynamic, human voice to the politically charged dialogue surrounding immigration.
" Grieving for Guava gives us the stories of a range of immigrants -- powerful stories that are more important to listen to today than ever before. Fernandez's care and fidelity to detail is admirable and provides Grieving for Guava with the authority of witness and experience. I am grateful for the lives, landscapes and communities this book opens up for me." -- Lisa Williams, author of Gazelle in the House
"Fernandez's stories engage questions of identity and belonging within the Cuban exile community of Miami. The narratives in this collection are character-driven, delving into complex psychology that helps to paint a vivid picture of the interior and exterior worlds the characters inhabit. Filled with concrete details, vibrant interiority, and smart collisions between internal and external conflicts, the stories challenge readers to feel the power of the characters' grief and longing." -- Joanna Luloff, author of The Beach at Galle Road and Remind Me Again What Happened
"Cecilia M. Fernandez's Grieving for Guava is a magnificent portrayal of every facet of the Cuban exile experience. Haunting short stories convey the pain, loss, longing, and courage of the exiles." -- Dan Wakefield, author of New York in the Fifties and Going All the Way
"What a lovely tribute to the author's roots and to her tribe of early exiles! With Grieving for Guava, Cecilia M. Fernandez has accomplished what I didn't think was still possible: to surprise and delight this reader with stories that I thought I already knew." -- Mirta Ojito, author of Finding Mañana: A Memoir of a Cuban Exodus