“Everywhere you turn in Adios, Happy Homeland! you find a beautiful meld of tradition and modernism, an admirable mastery of irony, and a lyrical deposition on exile and homecoming. Take this balloon ride across the Carib-Cubano-Americano sea and landscape and you will relish the view.”
Ana Menéndez’s In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd was hailed by The New York Times’ book critics as “powerful” and “achingly wise.” Now, in Loving Che, Menéndez delivers an astonishing, intimate portrait of revolutionary Cuba as witnessed by an elderly woman recalling her secret love affair with the world’s most dashing, charismatic rebel, Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
The story opens in contemporary Miami, where a young Cuban woman has for years been searching in vain for details of her birth mother. All she knows of her past is that her grandfather had fled the turbulent Havana of the 1960s for Miami with her in tow, and that pinned to her sweater — possibly by her mother — were a few treasured lines of a Pablo Neruda poem. These facts remain her only tenuous links to her history, until a mysterious parcel arrives in the mail. Inside the soft, worn box are layers of writings and photographs. Fitting these pieces together with insights she gleans from several trips back to Havana, the daughter reconstructs the life of her mother, her youthful affair with the enigmatic Che, and the child she bore by the handsome rebel.
Loving Che is a brilliant recapturing of revolutionary Cuba, the changing social mores, the hopes and disappointments, the excitement and terror of the times. It is also an erotic fantasy, a glimpse into the private life of a mythic public figure, and an exquisitely crafted meditation on memory, history, and storytelling. Finally, Loving Che is a triumphant unveiling of how the stories we tell about others ultimately become the story of ourselves.