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Dovalpage, Teresa
Posesas de La Habana.
(Enraged Women in Havana)

U.S.: Pureplay Pr. 2004. 204p. ISBN 0-9714366-7-3. pap. $20. FIC

In Cuban police jargon, posesas refers to women involved in family quarrels. Thus, by using the term in the title of her second novel, Cuban-native Dovalpage (A Girl Like Che Guevara, Soho Pr., 2004) gives readers a hint of her book’s confessional tone. During a blackout in Havana in the year 2000, four women of the same family reflect on their lives and generational differences, uncovering a century of Cuban history. Bárbara remembers her move from the provinces to Havana, and the personal circumstances that forced her daughter, Barbarita, and granddaughter, Elsa, to move in with her. Elsa’s rebellious 11-year-old, Bieya, also lives with them in the crowded central Havana apartment. Together the women confront the scarcity of food and personal resources that have characterized life on the island since the collapse of the Soviet Union. While they wait for the electricity to be restored, they argue about the unexplained disappearance of some money that another of Barbarita’s daughters sent from the United States. The novel traces the roots of the strong animosity between Bárbara and Barbarita, and between Barbarita and her daughter, Elsa. But Bieya’s funny account and her young perspective is what ultimately keeps readers interested in this story. The novel’s strength lies in Dovalpage’s ability to construct the complex personal background of these characters, touching on their sexual histories and the generational restrictions behind their confrontations with one another. The book is easy to read despite some Cuban regionalisms, but the plot can be hard to follow, as it is easy to confuse the characters’ experiences. Recommended for libraries interested in Cuban literature and the experience of women on the island.

—Rafael Ocasio, Agnes Scott Coll., Decatur, GA


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