Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 478
• Cruz’s play Two Sisters and a Piano (Theatre Communications Group, 2004) is set in 1991 as the fall of the Soviet Union further isolates Cuba politically and culturally. The two sisters of the play’s title—one is a writer and the other is a musican—are placed under house arrest after spending time in prison for signing a manifesto against the current regime (though Cruz’s characters never mention Castro by name). The sisters realize that, if they are to endure their sentence, they must redeem themselves through art.
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• Many critics and lay readers alike consider Anna Karenina (first published in parts from 1875 to 1877) to be one of the best novels ever written. In describing the life of his troubled heroine, Leo Tolstoy also provides the reader with a sweeping portrait of nineteenth-century Russian society as it moves from a feudal economy to a modern state. For years, the Constance Garnett translation has been the standard English version, though a recent translation of Anna Karenina by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (Penguin, 2001) faithfully re-creates the power and grace of the Russian original.
• Gustav Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857) is another classic of western literature that explores contemporary mores through the life of an adulterous woman. Married to a country physician who is devoted to her, Emma Bovary nevertheless seeks escape from boredom through an affair with a wealthy landowner, Rodolphe Boulanger, then another with Leon Dupuis, a notary clerk who eventually abandons her. Though there are romantic overtones within the novel, Flaubert takes an anti-romantic approach toward his heroine as she falls into disgrace and, eventually, ruin.
• Marguerite Duras’s The Lover (1984) is a romantic novel that, like Anna in the Tropics, captures a moment in time—specifically, French Indochina (now Vietnam) in the 1930s. As Duras follows her fifteen-year-old protagonist through a passionate affair with a rich Chinese gentleman, she combines themes of erotic initiation with death to create a work of sensuous beauty. Partly autobiographical, The Lover eschews most of the narrative conventions of the traditional novel, thus allowing characters to reveal themselves by their words and actions, much as they would in a theatrical performance.
• Tampa Cigar Workers: A Pictorial History (2003), by Robert P. Ingalls and Louis A. Perez Jr., tells the story of how cigar workers came from Italy, Spain, and Cuba to make a life in Tampa while maintaining their ideals and culture in the face of economic hardship. Illustrated with over 200 photographs, the book documents the multiethnic communities that developed in the Ybor City area from the late 1800s through the years following World War II when Tampa became home to a large Latin population. Through oral histories and archived documents, Tampa Cigar Workers: A Pictorial History records the social customs and leisurely pursuits that preserved a former way of life as these immigrants adapted to a new one in the United States.