Book Review: Havana: A Subtropical Delirium, by Mark Kurlansky
Havana: A Subtropical Delirium, by Mark Kurlansky
Havana: A Subtropical Delirium
By Mark Kurlansky
Bloomsbury USA
Reviewed by Jason Pettus

Although I enjoyed Mark Kurlansky’s newest nonfiction book Havana, I don’t actually have a lot to say about it, simply because there’s not much to it in the first place; not exactly a travel guide to this capital of Cuba, not exactly a history, and not exactly a memoir, it’s instead a curious mix of them all, what you might call a “biographical sketch of a city” in the spirit of Peter Ackroyd’s London. As such, then, it makes for pleasant surface-level reading, a book that has a general theme per chapter but then spits out random factoids within each of these chapters, full of interesting trivia (did you know that the Sloppy Joe sandwich was invented in Cuba?), but that never really digs down into a deeper or more meaningful look at this fascinating, complicated city. With the Obamian normalization of relations between the US and Cuba, now has never been a better time to read a light but engaging book like this, one that will give most Americans their first look at this most curious of Caribbean destinations; hopefully it will serve to whet your appetite for more.

Out of 10: 8.5

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Jason Pettus is the owner of CCLaP, and a former novelist, slam poet and travel writer. During the day he is a front-end software developer within the Chicago tech startup community. Goodreads | LibraryThing | Twitter | Instagram | Letterboxd