Easily one of the most disquieting books I’ve read in years, Yoani Sanchez’s Havana Real shines a spotlight on the hidden realities and intense difficulties of contemporary Cuban life. Based on her blog, Generation Y— the creation of which has placed Yoani on Big Brother’s long list of national threats–these scorching vignettes depict a hungry, impotent and increasingly agitated nation.
Cuba is at the forefront of gay and transsexual rights; the tiny country holds one of highest literacy rates in the world; Cuban-trained doctors are leaders of the international medical community. Yet, most Cubans return home from the markets with empty bags and deflated hope. They are barred from traveling, accessing an uncensored Internet or watching non-government sanctioned television. They set out empty chairs for the members of their families who have been imprisoned for speaking out against a stolid government. But with people like Yoani sending their voices out to the rest of the world, these people and their stories will finally be heard.