THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOK, “A BLOOM OF BONES,” BY ALLEN MORRIS JONES, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE “FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY.” OR CLICK THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.
THE BOOK: Oye What I’m Gonna Tell You
PUBLISHED IN: 2015\
THE AUTHOR: Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés
THE EDITOR: Robert Lasner
THE PUBLISHER: Ig Publishing, an indie press that focuses on original literary fiction from writers who have been overlooked by the mainstream publishing establishment, and political and cultural nonfiction.
SUMMARY: When is your culture bad for you? That is the question that weaves its way through Oye What I’m Gonna Tell You, a collection of short stories chronicling the lives of Cubans and Cuban Americans from WWII-era Havana to contemporary times in “el norte.” Whether they inhabit blue collar neighborhoods in the Northeast, the increasingly Latino-populated South, or Florida, the characters that populate this book—many of whom are the children and grandchildren of exiles, who have been raised in traditional Cuban homes but whose only homeland has been the United States—must decide what to take and what to leave from their upbringing. Many of the stories have young women navigating between traditional cultural expectations from within their households and the more “liberated” roles North American society offers them.
THE BACK STORY: I really love the short story form—its compactness, elegance, variety, and power. Short stories allow me to render the lives of people previously unknown or not familiar beyond stereotypes to readers and I am never at a loss for stories when it comes to Cubans and Cuban Americans. Since my first book, Marielitos, Balseros and Other Exiles (2009) centered on characters in South Florida, I wanted to tell stories about Cubans living outside of Miami.
WHY THIS TITLE?: The title is a cross between something bilingual and a transliteration of a very Cuban saying—Oye lo que te voy a decir (Listen to what I’m going to tell you). I really love when Cubans say this because it can be heard as a warning or threat or perhaps even a joke. I knew most readers would recognize the word oye from Carlos Santana and I like the quirkiness of it.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I think readers who want to know more about Cubans, Cuban Americans and also about the immigrant experience from a variety of time periods will find something of interest. I think my work pays attention to class, race, and gender in ways I hope aren’t forced.
REVIEW COMMENTS: [These are excerpted]
“These stories have an appealing colloquial voice, peppered with Spanglish. Milanés’s depictions of Cuban-American culture are vibrant.”—New York Times Book Review.
“These characters’ lives all intersect with Cuba—whether they have immigrated to it, been exiled from it, never known it, or lived and died within its shores. And, given current events, there may be no better time in recent memory for this chorus of voices to resound.”—Kirkus Review.
“But Oye What I’m Gonna Tell You, traces not only the lives of Cuban-American women negotiating the perils of growing up in America while living in traditionally Cuban homes and within the at-times-suffocating confines of Cuban ideals of female identity, but also the lives of Cubans before and after the Cuban revolution.”–Flavorwire
AUTHOR PROFILE: I’m a full time teacher of writing and literature who feels guilty when she’s not writing which is often during the academic year. I have two wholly unsocialized dogs including a corgi/spitz mutt for whom I am the emotional support animal and a brindle Chihuahua who repeatedly tests our fence for weaknesses so he can go gallivanting about the neighborhood. I’ve always loved listening to people telling stories and to capture reader’s imaginations with my own storytelling.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: Oye is my attempt to add insight to the top and people of Cuba that was heightened after the move toward a normalization of relations between the US and the island of my ancestors.
SAMPLE CHAPTER: You can read the first chapter on the Ig Pub site: http://www.igpub.com/oye-what-im-gonna-tell-you/
LOCAL OUTLETS: Writer’s Block Bookstore in Winter Park, FL
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Directly from IgPub.com and also Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et al.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: On Twitter @CeciliaMilanes and at www.oyechica.net