“Map drawn by a spy” , unpublished work by Guillermo Cabrera Infante was released this November in Spain . The text was edited by Galaxia Gutenberg / Ballantine Books and surprised by the abundance of information, names and details of all types it contains. The book chronicles the last trip he made to Cuba, after the sudden death of his mother in 1965, from Brussels, where he worked at the embassy in Havana in Belgium. Cabrera Infante returned to the island to attend the funeral and when he tried to leave, he was held for four months without explanation. “Map drawn by a spy ” is his most bitter chronic, his farewell to the island and the road to final exile .
Guillermo Cabrera Infante was director of Lunes de Revolución and after its closure in 1961 was sent to Brussels as cultural attaché at the Cuban embassy. In the Belgian capital he wrote “Three Trapped Tigers” , one of the key novels of the “boom ” in Latin America , Biblioteca Breve Prize winner .
Upon learning that mother was very ill, Cabrera Infante went to Havana, but not in time to see her alive. He attended the funeral and a week later he tried to return to Belgium taking with him his two daughters. When he was at the airport he was ordered not to get on the plane and return to have a meeting the next day at the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Thus began the misfortunes he wrote about in “Map drawn …” the story of the four months he was held in Cuba. On leaving the island, the great Cuban novelist knew he would never return. It had started his long exile.
According to Miriam Gomez, the writer’s widow, in an interview with Efe, “this book was like a huge complaint on whatever happened to Guillermo in those months. It was a catharsis. It is a book that has no literature, a naked book, a total memory”. The inseparable companion of Cabrera Infante has had serious doubts about whether or not to publish this work, but decided to do so, eight years after his death.
Meanwhile, the editor of his complete works, Antoni Munné , says in the introduction of the text, ” Map drawn by a spy ” is a sad book , melancholic . It is the story of a great disappointment, the show of permanent accusation. It’s a devastating testimony of disillusionment and disappointment that is configured as “a farewell intimate cartography “. According to his biographer Raymond L. Souza, Cabrera Infante himself was not happy with the narrative of the book because the style was “too blunt and maybe too dense.” He wanted to change it, but could not find time to do it.
Miriam Gomez says the writer wrote this book before 1968, when there was the writer’s public break with the Cuban regime following the interview he gave to Tomas Eloy Martinez for Argentine weekly Primera Plana. The author of “Havana for a deceased infant ” asked his wife to keep the manuscript in an envelope and not to read it. According to what Antoni Munné told Spanish daily ABC , ” it was the only text that she had never read , but knew of it , but feared that reading it would disturb her”
“When Miriam Gomez gave me the original, I read it in one night and got very moved: it is sad, very sad,” Munné said and stressed” the enormous traffic of characters, some who surrendered for what befallen them, others were razed, and the massive bankruptcy of friends “.
Politicians, artists and writers such as Alejo Carpentier and Nicolas Guillen parade through this book in which Cabrera Infante reflects Cuba at the time, the Cuba he lived in.
“The heart of the book is a huge disappointment that the great writer lucidly feel when he sees what is happening in Cuba. To me it seems that falls short of the testimonials André Gide and Arthur Koestler wrote. “Munné adds.
The novelist, critic, essayist, journalist, screenwriter and Cervantes Prize for Spanish Language is now one of the key figures of Cuban literature of the second half of the twentieth century. Cabrera Infante died in 2005, at 75, in London, where he lived his last 40 years.