The same day of February 1996 when the Cuban Army shoots down two civilian airplanes over the Caribbean, a commercial flight departing from Miami towards the Bahamas is kidnapped and forced to land in the island. Before returning the aircraft and the hostages back to their destiny, the Cuban authorities question the identity of one passenger. The transcripts of her interrogation are intertwined with the entries of the diary of a young idealistic Havana native girl who grew up in the tumultuous eighties. With nods to A Thousand and One Nights, T.S. Eliot, Jorge Luis Borges, the Cuban canon, Argentinian pop-rock, chess and revolutionary kitsch —among other tropical diseases—, The Cuban Opening weaves a tapestry with the lives of these two women. The task of the interrogators —and the readers— is to find out how they are connected.
In a fit of nostalgia, after thirteen years living as a “free man,” Enrique Martin abandons common sense, his third wife and his life in Spain to return to Cuba. Once on the island, he tries to get closer to his son, David, who is struggling to make do on his teacher’s salary and is harassed by policemen who brand him a “citizen with characteristics.”
Amidst televised speeches, ration cards, buildings on the verge of collapse, sun, sand, sea foam, censorship, intolerance and other tropical substances, a good cop, a bad cop, several Marias, a Jazz quartet, an idealistic teacher, child molesters, an alleged Dominican, an Australian with strong thighs, drug lords, suicides, pornographers, revolutionaries and a varied list of criminals gather in these pages. All they have in common is one question: where are the emergency exits in Havana?
Other, feverish, brief, incongruous,
time occurs to him in its measure.
He remembers a brush, the sheet music
and the unquiet impression of sunrise,
the vice of age and the ironies
of frontiers and incarcerations,
of the fallacies and of the exiles
of each eternity and each passing day.
He loved his kind among silent letters.
He learned to breathe in a foreign soil
and the air, clean and grave, was the dilemma.
His phobias conspire with his doubts.
His pen has the shape of a scythe.
He burned his ships in that poem.