Reading List: Havana







Islands in the stream

Written in 1970, this three part novel refers specifically to Hemingway’s time spent in Cuba, including a middle section set specifically in the bar El Floridita and his house Finca Vigia. An episode in which Hemingway does what he does best; drinking. The other two sections are more imagined but include depictions of islands surrounding Cuba and Hemingway’s other passions including fishing. Not only does the novel give a warm and idyllic view of Cuba, the city of Havana and the surrounding ocean, it names many places that it is possible to visit. El Floridita and Finca Vigia are easy enough stops on a tour of Havana, and if you head down to Marina Hemingway you can even indulge in a spot of fishing. The perfect read to give you the feeling of walking in Hemingway’s footsteps.



The Old Man and The Sea

Regarded as Hemingway’s masterpiece, this novella was inspired by his time spent fishing off the coast of Cuba. The port town cojimar is part of the Hemingway tour, as is La Terraza, the restaurant he used to eat at with Captain Gregorio Fuentes. His fishing boat Pilar now resides at the house of Finca Vigia. You may not want to recreate the experience of the book but you can at least ponder the relationship between man and nature or man and god whilst you enjoy a fish lunch.



Our Man In Havana

Graham Greene’s crime caper is set very much in the heart of Havana and acutely describes a city on the brink of a huge political upheaval. A comedic thriller about a bumbling vacuum cleaner salesman who joins the secret service and ends up making up stories that strangely start coming true. Greene’s protagonist ‘Wormold’ visits many spots in the city and drinks many daiquiris, giving the reader a few bars to visit in the recreation of the novel. Drink with Wormold in Sloppy Joe’s, Hotel Nacional and Tropicana as well as searching the endless dusty Lamparilla street for his shop.




No Way Home
Carlos Acosta’s autobiographical account of growing up in the city of Havana gives a portrayal of modern day Cuba and suggests at the cultural and artistic soul of the city. Now a world famous ballerina, Carlos Acosta tells how he came to dance for the Royal Ballet from the streets of Havana. In No Way Home Havana is a city of hardship, but also of great soul and creativity. Acosta describes the difficulties of growing up in a communist state and the beauty and love of dance that was borne from that. A visit to Havana confirms this creativity that is rooted deep in the city, and can also include a visit to see the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.




Fidel Castro: My Life

In this autobiography Castro speaks for the first time about his life and gives a first hand account of Cuba’s recent history. He describes huge historical moments such as the Cuban revolution and overthrowing of Batista and the Bay of Pigs incident, as well as more intimate depictions of his early life and friendship with Che Guevara. This is the ultimate depiction of Cuba’s most prominent figure and gives insight into what has shaped the Cuba we see today. In Havana there are many places to visit which reflect the political upheaval including the Museo de la Revolucion in which the bullet holes are still visible in the marble walls.


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