Saturday, 27 September 2014

My Ocean, by Enrique Perez Diaz. Reviewed by Saviour Pirotta

Title: My Ocean
Author Enrique Perez Diaz
Translator: Trudy Balch
Publisher Groundwood Books, October 2008

Enrqiue Perez Diaz is an award-winning Cuban author whose work, sadly, seems to be mosly unkown on our side of the pond.
His books include The Golden Age, New Pines, Ismaelillo and 

My Ocean was published in 2008. It is a long, introspective and semi-autobiographical letter to the sea that surrounds Perez Diaz's native island. Growing up in a time when everyone around him - friends, family, neighbours - seems to be emigrating illegally to El Norte, the US, Enrique seems to be left alone to make his was in a fast-chaning world.  And this world is not changing only because of the political situation in Cuba but also because Enrique is growing up. He is altering from a boy to a man and this forces him to change his perspective on life.

In this world of turmoil, but also of triumphs and hope, Enrique returns continually to the sea, to talk to it and listen out for its answers.  The sea is his sanctuary, reassuringly unchanging, the magic mirror that reflcts back only the truth.

The vignettes that spark the conversations with the sea are beautifully drawn: a terrifying encounter with sharks; a first date; an invitation to become a 'pioneer', a young communist; realistation that he can never read the letters from his unpatriotic grandparents now propsering in the US.

The book was originally written in Spanish and the translation does sometimes feel a bit stilted. Nevertheless this is a book I would recommend highly, if only for its insight into life for teenagers in Cuba.

Saviour Pirotta

Follow me on twitter @spirotta
Like me on facebook



Sue Purkiss said...

Nice to hear about a book in translation...

Saviour Pirotta said...

It's a shame there aren't more, Sue, although I notice Dan Pennac is now getting some deserved attention.

Maeve Friel said...

Groundwood books are wonderful - they publish many Latin American writers in translation and bilingual editions.

Post a Comment