Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

Catalog » Browse by Title: T » The Tower of the Antilles

The Tower of the Antilles


Obejas’s stories of contemporary Cuba explore how history and fate intrude on even the most ordinary of lives.

$19.95 $14.96

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction!

The Tower of the Antilles has been longlisted for the 2018 PEN Open Book Award and for The Story Prize!

One of Electric Literature‘s 15 Best Short Story Collections of 2017

Nominated for the Aspen Words Literary Prize for Fiction, presented by the Aspen Institute

“Achy Obejas’ superb story collection The Tower of Antilles deals with the conflicted relationships Cubans, exiles and Cuban Americans have with their homeland.”
LA Times Jacket Copy, selected as one of Rigoberto Gonzalez’s Favorite Books of 2017/Critics Pick

“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.”
Publishers Weekly

“Obejas’s stories demonstrate an acute understanding of being caught between two places and cultures as different as America and Cuba.”
Library Journal

“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.”

“Floating somewhere between magic realism and brutal reality, Obejas’s restless characters are deniers, escapists, adventurers.”
The Booklist Reader

“The rich thematic and symbolic texture of much of the collection rewards repeated reading and promises continued insight. How Cuba’s distinctive history and culture shape the unique negotiations with identity, memory and the idea of home that complicate the lives of the residents, exiles, and expatriates who populate this volume is a worthy subject indeed.”
Lambda Literary

“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

“Cuba exists in these pages as a living, organic entity: vibrant and sinewy even in the memories of the citizens who have left it. Obejas reminds her readers that Cuba is no single destination, and that the Cuban imagination is a dense, intricately networked map unto itself. These stories come to life in explorations of sleepy-eyed boys with concupiscent superpowers, of large brown women building towers of boats in the Antilles. ‘Is there any real chance you can leave a place?’ these stories ask. The answers are multiple and mysterious.”
Caribbean Beat Magazine

“These stories will resonate with anyone who feels troublingly nostalgic for their constricting hometown.”
Paper Darts, A Favorite 2017 Small-Press Short Story Collection

“Achy Obejas’s collection is about fictional Cuban migrants who never quite escape the land they’ve left.”
Electric Literature

“How can you not be satisfied with this one perfect, delicious thing?”
The Thread, included in Kathryn Harper’s Ask a Bookseller recommendations

“Obejas presents heartbreaking dramas in the most elegant language . . . Obejas strung ten story islands together in The Tower of the Antilles to create an archipelago, persuasively articulating the contrast between power and the lack of it—her tales fluently translating the Cuban search for identity.”
Woven Tale Press

“Exile is a murky subject that inevitably calls into question what it means to be Cuban — on and off the island; then, now, and in the future. Obejas came to this country as a refugee and her stories offer a nuanced view of the changes that take place within refugee communities over the course of a prolonged exile. Caught between the United States and Cuba, her characters often feel adrift, caught between nations, diverting cultures and languages. These feelings often manifest in their bodies and in their interactions with others. The Tower of the Antilles reveals the extraordinary power that feelings of instability and in-betweenness arising from the trauma of exile hold over those who leave and those who stay.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“It’s a joy to return to Obejas’s work; her prose, crisp, crystalline, and controlled, covering the wide spectrums of anger, desire, longing, and wonder in the face of immigration . . . Obejas sneaks under the skin, revealing emotions tied up at the dock, cuts the rope, and sets them free. The Tower of the Antilles proves, once again, why Achy Obejas is one of the most important Cuban writers of our time.”
The Miami Rail

“Obejas has created some of her most unforgettable characters for the 10 stories that make up this latest release.”
Palette Magazine

“Obejas’ deft hand and free-wheeling imagination craft ten stories to be read, then read again out of delight, perplexity, surprise, admiration.”
La Bloga

“Obejas’s sentences often glisten with sparkling images.”
Sinkhole Magazine

“This summer is the perfect opportunity to get to know the work of this Cuban-American writer. The stories collected in her new book tell the story of various Cubas—Cuba throughout the ages, Cuba from different perspectives, but always Cuba in all its vibrant, troubled, conflicting beauty.”
B&N Reads

“Captivating . . . These conflicts of identity, selfhood, and belonging are braided with lush phrasing and a penchant for details and observations.”
Atticus Review

Chosen as a Fifth Wednesday Journal Recommended Title.

Included in The Rumpus’s “What To Read When You’ve Made it More Than Halfway Through 2017”

“For twenty years I’ve been a fan of the genius Achy Obejas—since I first read Memory Mambo in 1996. Obejas has been the model of a writer for me in every way—a master in her aesthetics, an inspiration in her politics, fearless and vital in every page. The Tower of the Antilles is another brilliant collection, a story of many Cubas, intensely personal and political, erotic and cerebral. I found myself holding my breath as I devoured this book, as I navigated the various avenues of the body, the blood, and all those seemingly impossible roads that lead to a place we try to call home.”
—Porochista Khakpour, author of The Last Illusion

“These stories are like a long dream of many parts, mixed desire, love, longing, anger—Obejas is a master of the human, able to conjure her characters’ heartbeats right under your fingertips, their breaths in your ears.”
—Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night

“Achy Obejas’s new story collection begins and ends with a question: what is your name? The answer is an abounding one. Counterrevolutionaries, the witnesses to the arrival of Columbus’s caravels, poets, Supermán—the characters in these stories, in all their riveting variety, name themselves as Cuban and are bound in complex ways by the geography of their hearts, if not the geography beneath their feet. An audacious and remarkable read!”
—Chantel Acevedo, author of The Distant Marvels

Praise for Achy Obejas:

“Obejas writes like an angel, which is to say: gloriously . . . one of Cuba’s most important writers.”
—Junot Díaz


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 “Supermán,” 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.

Read Achy Obejas’s opinion piece, “The Little Fidel in All of Us,” at the New York Times.

The Tower of the Antilles is included on Barnes & Noble / B&N Reads’s list of 12 Must-Read Indie Books Coming This Summer.

The Tower of the Antilles is included in the Chicago Review of Books‘s list of 12 Books You Should Definitely Read This July.

Read an excerpt from The Tower of the Antilles at Electric Literature.

Read interviews with Achy Obejas in the Windy City Times and at Palette Magazine.

Read Achy Obejas’s Book Club Chat with The Rumpus.

Read Achy Obejas’s interview with NBC News Latino.

Read Achy Obejas’s interview with The National Book Review.

Read Repeating Islands‘s highlight on The Tower of the Antilles. 

Listen to Achy Obeja’s interview with KMSU Weekly Reader, KBOO FM’s Preference, and on Eye 94 (Lumpen Radio).

Listen to a reading of The Tower of the Antilles and an interview with Achy Obejas on Unbound, a Sundance Bookstore video series.

Listen to Achy Obejas, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Jonathan Safran Foer discuss “Moral Culpability in Global Crises,” their panel at the 2017 Brooklyn Book Festival, moderated by Michele Filgate.

Read “Supermán” in the Fall 2017 issue of BOMB Magazine.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 150 pages
  • Published: 7/4/17
  • IBSN: 9781617755392
  • e-IBSN: 9781617755538


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. The Tower of the Antilles is her latest work.

More info »