Cafe Books was host to yet another successful local author this past week.
Originally from the Florida Everglades, Rosa Jordan now resides in Rossland with her partner Derek Choukalos.
Jordan has authored several books over her life, for young readers and adults, covering subjects from wild cats to Rossland’s history. It was her books on Cuba though that were at the forefront Friday night, most prominent her newest novel, The Woman She Was.
Ever since her first trip to Cuba, Jordan has been fascinated with the country.
“I first went to Cuba in 1995,” she said, “and after biking most of the way around the island’s coast, my partner Derek and I decided to co-author a cycling guide to Cuba.”
Cycling Cuba was published in 2002 and is no longer in print, but is available at local libraries.
“What fascinated me about Cuba from the start was the fact that it was so different from other places I’d traveled. A lot of what I had heard or read was wrong — either too positive or too negative. It wasn’t easy to figure out how things worked. So I kept returning, seeking insights into the Cuban way of doing things.”
In 2012, Jordan published The Woman She Was.
The novel begins with a triangle affair between Celia Cantu, a doctor in modern Havana, and two brothers,;one a “godless Communist,” the other a “godless capitalist.” Their relationship quickly evolves into something totally unpredictable and even more complicated.
Meanwhile, Celia discovers that her 16-year-old niece has been cutting class to hustle tourists in the resort of Varadero, until the teenager disappears. While all this is going on, Cantu begins to feel that she is no longer herself, but is disappearing into the persona of the famous Cuban revolutionary for whom she was named, Celia Sanchez.
Jordan has really done a great job with her research and attempts to understand Cuban history and their way of life.
She said, “Challenges faced by characters in the novel are the ones faced by a great many Cubans. Conflicts within families over socialism vs. capitalism and a schism between the older generation raised in a sharing economy and the much more ‘what’s in it for me’ younger generation.”
Jordan continued to explain, this in turn may cause a retreat into their nation’s romantic revolutionary past rather than adapting to the frightening uncertainties that come with modernization, materialism, and terrorism.
Cuba is a country rich with culture and can’t be contained to only one or two books. At least that’s what Jordan believed.
“More recently Derek and I wrote a guide to Cuba’s best beaches. I divided the 30 beaches described in the book into three categories: best beaches for a resort vacation, best beaches for a cultural experience, and best beaches for getting away from it all.”
Inspiration continued to flow and Jordan had another book — titled Cuba Unspun — published in 2012.
“Cuba Unspun is partly about the adventures I’ve had traveling around Cuba, but also my understanding of its cultural complexities; for example, how Cubans manage to live reasonably well on such tiny incomes, how racism manifests itself in a country that has a proud Afro-Spanish heritage, and the impact of hurricanes on the Cuban economy.”
David Stanley, the original author of Lonely Planet Cuba, said, “I’ve been to Cuba over 30 times and [Cuba Unspun] taught me as much about the country as I learned on any of those trips. Rosa Jordan will introduce you to the real Cuba.”