Orwell in Cuba: How 1984 Came to Be Published in Castro’s Twilight
Author: Frédérick Lavoie
Translator: Donald Winkler
Publisher: Talonbooks (2020)
Orwell in Cuba: How ‘1984’ Came to Be Published in Castro’s Twilight is a personal account of contemporary Cuba at a pivotal point in its history, with the Castro brothers passing power on to a new generation. We discover Cuba through the adventures, inquiries, and encounters of a Canadian journalist and writer trying to make sense of the current climate in Cuba and of how Cubans feel about the past, present, and future of their island. Orwell in Cuba is also akin to a detective story, as the author investigates how and why a state-run publishing house came to release a new translation of George Orwell’s iconic anti-totalitarian novel 1984, formerly taboo, in the year 2016. These two quests are intertwined in the book, giving the reader an unusual experience: that of following a suspenseful trail while at the same time becoming increasingly familiar with the Cuban people’s relationship to the regime, and absorbing a wealth of information as to how they succeed in coping with the island’s often challenging living conditions.