Ivonne Lamazares’s distinguished debut novel is "at once a deeply personal and worldly tale . . . a wonderful amalgamation of culture, politics, and love" (Philadelphia Weekly). With economical prose and a clear-eyed vision, Lamazares evokes lives full of hope but fraught with obstacles in this story of a mother and daughter in 1960s Cuba. The story is told in the brave, tough voice of Tanya, a girl at odds with her mother and with the rapidly changing world around her. In the wake of Castro’s revolution, Tanya's mother -- passionate and unreliable -- is determined to leave Cuba at all costs and to take her reluctant daughter with her. THE SUGAR ISLAND presents their embattled relationship against the backdrop of a country in conflict with itself, where the old world chafes against the new and where a parent’s desperate grab for freedom has dire consequences for her child.
About the Author
IVONNE LAMAZARES was born in Cuba in 1962. Her mother died when she was three, and she was raised by her grandparents in Old Havana before emigrating to Florida at the age of fourteen. Lamazares is on the faculty of Miami-Dade Community College, where she received an endowed chair for excellence in teaching literature, and her short stories have appeared in Blue Mesa Review and Michigan Quarterly Review.
"Listen to me," Mama commanded..."This country is just a backwater plaintain grove. Now and forever." She wiped her hands on her apron until she left a dark circle. "Tanya, mija, our life is about to start." Mama always wanted to start life just as I wanted to start a new notebook at school, with neat and crisp lines, waiting to be filled in with important dates and bright colors.
She touched my arm and whispered, "Cousin Romy is coming for us. Tomorrow or the next day we could wake up in Cayo Hueso, or Me-a- me." Mama whispered "Me-a-me" the same way Emanuel and I ate ripe bananas--with greedy, sticky pleasure.
Copyright © 2000 by Ivonne Lamazares. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.