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Before Night Falls Paperback – 15 Jun 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; New Ed edition (15 Jun 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852428082
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852428082
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 112,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

One of the most shattering testimonials ever written on the subject of oppression and defiance (Mario Vargas Llosa)

Reading Arenas is like witnessing a bare consciousness in the process of assimilating the most universal, but powerful, human experiences and turning them into literature (Robert Gonzalez Echevarria)

A document of a particular and disturbing honesty by one of the truly great writers to come out of Latin America (Chicago Tribune)

One of the most searing satirical writers of the 20th century, a worthy successor to Aristophanes and Swift (Jaime Manrique Village Voice)

About the Author

Reinaldo Arenas was born in Holguín, Cuba, in 1943. His first novel, Singing from the Well, was awarded First Mention in Cuba's Cirilo Villaverde National Competition. It was to be his only book published in his native country. Both as a homosexual and a writer, he found himself persecuted by the Cuban government, and had to smuggle his work out of the country for publication in France. He left Cuba in 1980 and settled in New York, where he died of AIDS in 1990. He is the author of over 20 books, including novels, short stories and poems.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 10 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback
This isn't a book for the prudish or the faint-hearted. From chapter one it describes not just homosexual activities but bestiality, incest and a general array of sexual experiences described in blunt honesty. That aside, I loved this book. It describes life as a poor peasant under Batista's regime, life as a revolutionary under Castro, life as a writer in Cuba in the face of censorship and opression, life as an ordinary Cuban, trying to survive financially despite shortages and the blockade, life as a prison inmate, and finally, of course, it describes life as a homosexual in a country which considered it a perversion.

For me it was a valuable and detailed account of the various aspects of life in Communist Cuba. The most striking quality however was that it communicated the extent to which mistrust, uncertainty and duplicity are a part of daily life in Cuba. As someone who spent nearly five months living in Havana, I had previously thought that never knowing who you can trust, and being lied to by people who claim to be your friends, was an experience specific only to foreigners in Cuba. Reading this book I came to realise that a sad reality of life under Castro's regime is that noone ever knows who they can trust. As people like Arenas did their best to be true to themselves either as writers or as homosexuals, the government, with its vast network of social and political controls was doing its very best to supress opposition and anything it considered counter-revolutionary. Networks of informers and committees for the defense of the revolution were not only expressions of Castroist support, but also constituted opportunities for social and economic advancement and, at times more importantly, refuges of protection against a government which seemed to consider almost everyone its enemy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Jordan on 27 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very powerful autobiography, the story of Reinaldo Areinas' life together with his reflections on life.

Areinas is born to a single mother in a large but not entirely fulfilled extended family, lives initially under Batista, plays some small part in the revolution, lives under Cuba, explores his sexuality, expresses his artistic drive - against the grain of the society in which he lives, is arrested and serves time in various prisons, is released (the story palls just a little at this point), leaves Cuba (the most dramatic episode of the book), lives in the US and dies of AIDS.

Areinas' life is remarkable: it is entirely self-created, not the product of family, society (Cuban or Western - he is as accurate a critic of Western values and lifestyles as he is of Cuba, while remaining clear where both rank in scheme of values) or any form of political creed. His character too is remarkable - though he attempts suicide a couple of times, it's with good reason. He retains optimism and belief in a better world and maintains some remarkable personal friendships across time.

Strongly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 May 1999
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. As I said before, Reinaldo Arena described in a very Cuban way the reality of the gay community in pre-revolutionary time, the persecution and the double repression he had to suffer because his duality as a gay and as an independent writer censored by the Castro machinery.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Jun 1999
Format: Paperback
Despite the horrors revealed in this mini-autobiography the true story must never be lost. Reinaldo Arenas never surrendered to the demons of self-pity and delusion, despite the hell he encountered on the road to Calvary. What a journey! What a man!
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