I’ve been thinking about the time and effort that goes on to create a dystopia. I mean, who doesn’t want to read about the end of the world and have the privilege of getting up for a hot cup of coffee or dinner afterwards? Science fiction, contemporary literature abounds with them. World building, it’s called. But 90 miles south of Florida, a little dictator has created a dystopia the rest of the world calls Cuba. Think of the contrast: one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful islands containing so much human misery.
And it’s real world, not a world built from imagination.
The promises Fidel Castro made in 1959 haven’t materialized for Tomas’ generation of Cubans. There are food shortages, a war in Angola fueled by soldiers as young as 16 and little opportunity for life to improve. Tomas’ every misstep is recorded in a civilian passport that affects his chance for schooling, job prospects and even rations. He hasn’t joined the Young Pioneers, the revolutionary commitment expected of all young people.
Tomas Santos just wants to be an artist. But that’s not likely in 1980 Cuba. His girlfriend Gabriela is the daughter of his father’s worst enemy and may be a spy. Only his brother Antonio’s baseball glove comforts him when life is overwhelming until Tomas learns it’s been part of Antonio’s initiation into Santeria, an Afro-Cuban religion that uses spells, divination and sacrifice to appease capricious deities. Then he’s told Antonio was killed in Angola. Tomas will be 16 in a few weeks. Gabriela’s father has promised to see he gets drafted and sent to Angola.
Tomas needs to escape from Cuba, but what if his dead brother won’t let him go?
I started this blog to promote my first book, Antonio’s Glove, which will be available for preorder soon. I chose this story because in the late 1990’s I was amazed that so few members of my family had any idea about the Mariel Boatlift of 1980. How could they be ignorant of 124,000 refuges flooding Miami from April to September?