Siedem Grzechów Kubańskich/Los Siete Pecados Nacionales Cubanos – Yoss

Dive right into the heart of Cuba with this collection of seven short stories. Sunny, funny, nostalgic, frustrating and witty. This book is a great and a bit surreal introduction to the intricacies of life in Cuba. It will pull you in, hold you in its embrace and then leave you alone wondering how real was what you just read.

It is one of the books I got from my mum, so in line with her recent selections, it is not an English one. In English, the title of this book would amount to Seven Cuban Sins, but sadly it hasn’t been published in English as far as I could find. It had a bit of a troubled history and now the original in Spanish is lost, so the Polish translation was based on the Italian version and cooperation with the author

As you can expect from the title and the number of stories each one of them corresponds to one of the deadly sins. Each story is accompanied by a brief introduction from the author/narrator setting the scene for it and putting it in the Cuban context.

All the stories are slightly quirky. We have here an old woman who longs for the old times so much she is ready to ear her weight in sugar. There is a man explaining to the police how did it come to him attacking another man if he normally is such a calm person. Trust me after the life he’s had you would to. A journalist who is desperate to write a groundbreaking story. All of the despicable in one way, but endearing in another. 

I think the sense of humor and the constant interplay between sympathizing with the characters and condemning them gives this collection a fantastic power. It is entertaining, but if you stop to think for a second it also makes you realize how fallible people are, but also how quick to judge.

Another fantastic aspect was that now when travel is so limited it does give you a flavor of another place. Even if it feels familiar on the whole all the little idiosyncrasies of living in Cuba make it feel different. It’ll make you laugh and shake your head and it will make you forget about daily troubles for a while.

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska

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