- Paperback: 250 pages
- Published: 3/1/09
- IBSN: 9781933354699
- e-IBSN: 9781936070138
- Genre: Fiction
A true believer is faced with a choice between love for his family and the Cuban Revolution.
Ruins was selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program.
“Daring, tough, and deeply compassionate, Achy Obejas’s Ruins is a breathtaker. Obejas writes like an angel, which is to say: gloriously . . . one of Cuba’s most important writers.”
—Junot Díaz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
“In the Havana of Ruins, scarcity can only be fought with ingenuity, and the characters work very hard at the exquisite art of getting by. The plot rests on the schemes of its weary, obsessive, dreamy hero—a character so brilliantly drawn that he can’t be dismissed or forgotten. A tender and wildly accurate portrait, in a gem of a novel.”
—Joan Silber, author of The Size of the World
“Usnavy, a man of tender resolve who wants only to do his part as a good revolutionary . . . is nimbly drawn, with genuine depth . . . endearing, sad and funny.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Obejas evinces a new, focused lyricism as she penetrates to the very heart of the Cuban paradox in a story as pared down and intense as its narrator’s life.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“Compassionate and intriguing . . . Obejas plays out [the book’s] conflicts in measured, simple prose, allowing her descriptions of the mundane—houses, food, dominoes—to illuminate a setting filled with heartbreak, confusion and decay . . . At her best, Obejas controls the mixture of humor and pathos that suffuse this poor community.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Ruins is a beautifully written novel, a moving testament to the human spirit of an unlikely hero who remains unbroken even as the world collapses around him . . . A fine literary achievement, it’s Achy Obejas at her very best.”
—El Paso Times
“[A] superb novel . . . Highly recommended.”
“[An] honest and superbly written book.”
“With the deft and evocative detail of a poet’s, Obejas’s prose is as illuminating and honest as her struggling protagonist.”
Usnavy has always been a true believer. When the Cuban Revolution triumphed in 1959, he was just a young man and eagerly signed on for all of its promises. But as the years have passed, the sacrifices have outweighed the glories and he’s become increasingly isolated in his revolutionary zeal. His friends openly mock him, his wife dreams of owning a car totally outside their reach, and his beloved fourteen-year-old daughter haunts the coast of Havana, staring north.
In the summer of 1994, a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government allows Cubans to leave at will and on whatever will float. More than 100,000 flee—including Usnavy’s best friend. Things seem to brighten when he stumbles across what may or may not be a priceless Tiffany lamp that reveals a lost family secret and fuels his long repressed feelings . . . But now Usnavy is faced with a choice between love for his family and the Revolution that has shaped his entire life.
ACHY OBEJAS is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Ruins, Days of Awe, and three other books of fiction. She edited and translated (into English) the anthology Havana Noir, and has since translated Junot Díaz, Rita Indiana, Wendy Guerra, and many others. In 2014, she was awarded a USA Ford Fellowship for her writing and translation. She currently serves as the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Mills College in Oakland, California. The Tower of the Antilles is her latest work.