When Nieve Guerra finds herself caught between the tides of her parents’ turbulent relationship and a country torn apart by political unrest, she begins recording the intimate and harsh details of her life within the pages of her Diary. Nieve is sent away from her mother, her mother’s free-spirited and loving Swedish boyfriend Fausto, and her childhood city of Cienfuegos and forced to endure unrelenting abuse at the hand of her father. Only her Diary will not leave her. It is her only friend, her sole outlet for her joy, sadness, and anger, and because of it she is able to remain in Cuba, her only home.
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A Q&A with Wendy Guerra
Question: What inspired you to write Everyone Leaves?
Wendy Guerra: My parents' deaths, both in 2004, and the disappearance of a generation that is dying much sooner than its predecessors. The rediscovery of my childhood diary and the need to tell my life story through a girl in this fictitious socialist reality. I'd never known a book that spoke about life under socialism in a child's voice. In my childhood, Cuba was a place where parents had no say about whether you handled firearms at 13, or if you went to school by yourself in the countryside, or whether you aspired to university studies. Parents didn't control their children's destinies. So I decided to graft a story on this non-reality in a place that isn't what it seems, about a diaspora that every generation has had to deal with in its own way. Everyone Leaves is my exorcism from childhood and from my "inxile."
Q: Your narrator, Nieve, would be roughly the same age as you are today. Do you have anything in common?
WG: I used my own real diary as the spine for this novel, working in other stories in a kind of Aristotelian weave. I choose my own memories of what happened during that time. They were very tough times of silence and farewells. When I reread my diary, I decided to lower the heat a little bit, to be a little less judgmental than I'd been as a girl. Kids are usually sharper than any politician. They can tell what's going on and judge from a very honest perspective.
Q: Do you still keep a personal diary? If so, does it provide content for your fiction?
WG: Usually I write in my diary every day and then revise it, go over it with a more critical and literary rigor. Later, it becomes a novel.
Q: Why did you decide to write about Cuba?
WG: For me, what's important is that Cuba's story be told. Our lives--which have been lived in isolation, put on hold for 50 years, displaced from the markets, and incubated without capitalist references--are as complex as magic.
Q: What other books would you recommend to Amazon customers who are interested in Cuban life and history?
WG: No one can understand Cuba without reading Virgilio Piñera. And it's impossible to understand the sounds of Cuba without knowing the work of Nicolás Guillén.About the Author:
A child star launched by a role as host of a popular children’s radio and television news program in Cuba, Wendy Guerra was inspired by her own diaries, written as a child during Cuba’s revolution. Published in eight languages, Everyone Leaves won the first Brugera Prize as well as the Premio Cabaret Del Caribe in 2009. Guerra lives and writes in Cuba, her home and primary source of inspiration.
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