TELEX FROM CUBA by Rachel Kushner, 336 pp.

Location image of event venue


Young Everly Lederer and K.C. Stites come of age in Oriente Province, where
the Americans tend their own fiefdom—three hundred thousand acres of United
Fruit Company sugarcane that surround their gated enclave. If the rural
tropics are a child's dreamworld, Everly and K.C. nevertheless have keen
eyes for the indulgences and betrayals of the grown-ups around them—the
mordant drinking and illicit loves, the race hierarchies and violence.

In Havana, a thousand kilometers and a world away from the American colony,
a cabaret dancer meets a French agitator named Christian de La Mazière,
whose seductive demeanor can't mask his shameful past. Together they become
enmeshed in the brewing political underground. When Fidel and Raúl Castro
lead a revolt from the mountains above the cane plantation, torching the
sugar and kidnapping a boat full of "yanqui" revelers, K.C. and Everly
begin to discover the brutality that keeps the colony humming. Though their
parents remain blissfully untouched by the forces of history, the children
hear the whispers of what is to come.

Kushner's first novel is a tour de force, haunting and compelling, with the
urgency of a telex from a forgotten time and place.