By Leila Segal
Published by Flipped Eye
Available in paperback
Leila Segal's collection of stories, Breathe, explores the culture of Cuba ranging from stories about outsiders who want the full 'experience' beyond the usual tourist traps like the protagonist in Sabbatical who lives in the house of a local while on holiday to stories of locals who want to escape like Pavel in Leaving Cuba.
There are a wide range of characters in these stories - There is a business man from Italy looking for a lover in his hotel, a student living in a home of a local woman and a man looking to leave Cuba and travel to his girlfriend in France. Everyone wants to escape - either out of the country or escape into the heat and passion of the country.
Relationships between friends, family, neighbours, and lovers are on the brink in Breathe. Assumptions based on cliched ideas about each other's beliefs and cultures are causing trouble.Yet the sense of community and belonging run strong through these stories.
Segal successfully creates a juxtaposition of the affluent tourists in their high-end hotels against the hardships of life for Cubans. Tucked away, hidden from tourists are the prefabs and poverty yet people are still friendly. Segal makes sure that this other side of Cuba is exposed to the reader. The protagonist in Taxi is a doctor who makes more money being a taxi driver, and must decide if he should save the life of a tourist and risk his livelihood as locals and tourists are not allowed to mix.
Breathe is quite short in length so you'll only need a few reading sessions or an afternoon to polish this off but these stories will stay with you days after finishing them.
You can buy Breathe from your favourite bookshop.
Leila will be stopping by on her blog tour and taking part of the Imaginary Bookshop Q&A on Monday.
I was kindly sent a copy by Midas PR.