Julia Cooke - The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba - Gables
May 14 2014 6:30 pm
Over a period of five years, beginning when Fidel Castro stepped down from his presidency after almost a half-century of reign, journalist Julia Cooke embedded herself in Cuba, gaining access to a dynamic Havana—one that she found populated with twenty-five-year-old Marxist philosophy students, baby-faced anarchists, children of the whiskey-drinking elite, Santería trainees, pregnant prostitutes, and more. Combining intimate storytelling with in-depth reportage, The Other Side of Paradise weaves together stories of the Cubans whom Cooke encountered, providing a vivid and unprecedented look into the daily lives and future prospects of young people in Cuba today. From ambitious Lucía—a recent university graduate with an acerbic sense of humor and plans to leave Cuba for the first country to give her a visa, if she can just get the roadblocks out of the way—to a crew of mohawk-wearing teenage anarchists who toss bricks at police cars and cite lyrics by The Clash (but don’t know the lead singer’s name), the characters of The Other Side of Paradise paint a captivating portrait of Cuban culture and the emerging legacy of Fidel Castro’s failed promises.
About the Author:
Julia Cooke writes for Virginia Quarterly Review, Conde Nast Traveller, and various channels of The Atlantic online. Her international reporting has appeared in Monocle, the Wall Street Journal, and Metropolis, and she's written personal essays for the Paris Review Daily, The Christian Science Monitor, and Guernica. She's written about her experiences buying gourmet food on Havana's black market, covered Mexico City's first and only sex-industry trade fair, profiled the most prolific design writer in the U.S. and a young prostitute in Havana, and explored the urban planning woes that led to Mexico City's sprawl. Julia is the recipient of fellowships from The Norman Mailer Center and Columbia University. After five years in Mexico City and Havana, she currently lives in New York City, where she teaches writing at The New School.