In the manner of fabled storytellers, Ponte creates a vivid picture of contemporary Cuba–its real and imagined place in the world–through stories told by a foreign exchange physics student, urban planners who discover an underground metropolis in their own neighborhood, a traveler stranded in an airport restroom, a suspicious stranger listening to stories spun in a barbershop and a Chinese butcher in love with a beautiful daughter of Ochun. This inventive brew of fantasy, popular religion, science and science fiction, travel adventure and tall tales celebrates the Cuban spirit at home and abroad.
Antonio Jose Ponte (born 1964 in Matanzas, Cuba) lives in Havana. He is the author of poetry, essays, novels and stories.
In a Spartan voice, frugal and brave, Havana-based writer Antonio José Ponte becomes a skillful Scheherazade who spins a fantastic collection of short stories that reads like a Cuban ‘Arabian Nights’.–Miami Herald
In this collection of stories, each told with a wild mania, the narrators, like Scheherazade, are desperate to save their lives by telling their story. . . . Each story loops back upon itself, arrives at an inconclusive end and should be read once more.–Los Angeles Times
Unlike exiled writers who see the island as either a mythical homeland or a political cause, Ponte paints a picture that will strike the U.S. reader as surreal in its simplicity. . . . Cool, assured and quietly insightful, these tales provide rare glimpses into a Cuba often lost behind newspaper headlines.–Publishers Weekly
Ponte writes in a spare style more akin to Eastern European writers than anything usually associated with the bounty of the Caribberan, Cuban or otherwise. His sentences are short and sharp, his settings bleak and cold. . . . Smart and haunting . . . —Village Voice Literary Supplement