Get To Know A Cuba Without Castro: Recommended Books, Movies And Music

For years, Americans have been eager to visit Cuba, not just for its Caribbean warmth, but to seek out the roots of the island’s music, to watch its films, to thumb through its books and meet its writers.

Fidel Castro’s death Friday has again spiked interest in the country among Americans. And, with diplomatic relations thawing between the U.S. and Cuba, now more than ever it’s possible to explore the island’s culture at its origin.
Former Cuban Leader Fidel Castro Dies At Age 90
Former Cuban Leader Fidel Castro Dies At Age 90

But where to start?

To answer that question, we turned to Tom Miller, the author of Trading with the Enemy: A Yankee Travels through Castro’s Cuba. Beyond that book, which is an account of his months spent traveling through Cuba, Miller has spent decades studying and writing about Latin America.

He drew up a list of books, movies and music to help you prepare for a possible trip — or just to sit back and enjoy the fruits of Cuba’s culture from afar. Beside each pick is Tom’s take on why it’s worth checking out.

Telex From Cuba, by Rachel Kushner: “A sweet, smooth novel of class and power.”
Dirty Havana Trilogy, by Pedro Juan Gutiérrez: “The author insists he had never read Charles Bukowski until his own book came out. You be the judge.”
Havana Red, by Leonardo Padura: “The hero of the novel is Lt. Mario Conde, whose investigations uncover raw Havana.”


The Whole Island: Six Decades of Cuban Poetry, edited by Mark Weiss.


Violet Isle, by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb: “A photography book whose pictures tell short stories of their own.”