The Tower of the Antilles
Short StoriesBook - 2017
Included in The Rumpus's "What to Read When You've Made it More Than Halfway Through 2017"
"Questions of personal and national identity percolate through the stories in Obejas's memorable short fiction collection, most of which is set in Cuba, the author's birthplace...These 10 stories show Obejas's talent, illuminating Cuban culture and the innermost lives of her characters."
"By turns searing and subtly magical, the stories in Obejas' vividly imagined collection are propelled by her characters' contradictory feelings about and unnerving experiences in Cuba...For all the human tumult and deftly sketched and reverberating historical and cultural contexts that Obejas incisively creates in these poignant, alarming tales, she also offers lyrical musings on the mysteries of the sea and the vulnerability of islands and the body. Obejas' plots are ambushing, her characters startling, her metaphors fresh, her humor caustic, and her compassion potent in these intricate and haunting stories of displacement, loss, stoicism, and realization."
"Obejas's stories demonstrate an acute understanding of being caught between two places and cultures as different as America and Cuba."
"Achy Obejas's collection is about fictional Cuban migrants who never quite escape the land they've left."
"Obejas writes with gentleness, without flashy wording or gimmicks, about people trying to figure out where they belong...The language we use and the stories we tell impact the futures we can imagine, but they are also restricted by what has come before. Obejas's Cuban characters, like most Americans, have limited access to the resources they need. One gets the sense that Obejas, like the Maldivian president, thinks it is time that the world takes these systemic problems on."
--Los Angeles Review of Books
"Obejas's use of language is masterful and intimate, deeply felt and projected...The Tower of the Antilles joins a rich store of in-between literature from Cubans over the past half-century, by both those who left and those who stayed. But it rises above this sea of work, claiming a place that is generally less politically wrought, instead depending for its power on a rich unfolding and unexpected tensions. I highly recommend this collection."
--World Literature Today
Praise for Achy Obejas:
"Obejas writes like an angel, which is to say: gloriously...one of Cuba's most important writers."
The Cubans in Achy Obejas's story collection are haunted by islands: the island they fled, the island they've created, the island they were taken to or forced from, the island they long for, the island they return to, and the island that can never be home again.
In "Superman," several possible story lines emerge about a 1950s Havana sex-show superstar who disappeared as soon as the revolution triumphed. "North/South" portrays a migrant family trying to cope with separation, lives on different hemispheres, and the eventual disintegration of blood ties. "The Cola of Oblivion" follows the path of a young woman who returns to Cuba, and who inadvertently uncorks a history of accommodation and betrayal among the family members who stayed behind during the revolution. In the title story, "The Tower of the Antilles," an interrogation reveals a series of fantasies about escape and a history of futility.
With language that is both generous and sensual, Obejas writes about existences beset by events beyond individual control, and poignantly captures how history and fate intrude on even the most ordinary of lives.