19 June 2009

Book Review: Gay Cuban Nation

Emilio Bejel is a Professor of Spanish American literature and literary theory at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He wrote Gay Cuban Nation.

Before I get into the substance of this book, I was totally offended that the University of Chicago Press would print a book with so many fucking typographical errors! Shame! Shame! Shame!

The first few chapters were very fascinating. I know almost nothing about Cuban literature or gay Cuban literary history so that was interesting in itself. However, what was more fascinating was Bejel's ability to weave Cuban national history into the framework of the "rupture" at the end of the nineteenth century / beginning of the twentieth century regarding sexuality.

Nakpil Zialcita's comment about Philippine academic disregard for everything Spanish is quite sad since the epistemological underpinnings of Philippine sexuality were deeply affected by Spanish colonialism! Gay Cuban Nation and other works on Latin American sexuality may be very useful to theorizing the problems of Philippine life. Although Benedict Anderson's Under Three Flags has been attacked, his introduction of Cuban anarchism into the discussion of the Philippine revolution was useful and enlightening.

The only draw back to the book is that there are a lot of unwarranted statements that are made and I felt it was very overintellectual and in theorizing certain symbols missed an opportunity for a deeper emotional connection to some of the work, especial Reinaldo Arenas, for example. Simplifying autobiography as merely an exercise in seeking recognition/validation, I think, misses a tremendous opportunity in the structure of both Arenas' personal psychological conflicts and collective Cuban consciousness.

The version I read was a 288 page paperback published by the University of Chicago Press (September 1, 2001) ISBN: 978-0226041742. The book is written in English with extensive Spanish block quotes. The lowest price was at abebooks.com.


  1. seems interesting. re: unwarranted statements, i think the folly of radical books is that they make a lot of farfetched statements. grain of salt as always. hehe

  2. @cb: yeah. one of the problems of all thinking-intuitive types, we lack the facts!