Margarita Engle

"Skywriting: A Novel of Cuba"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark MAR 9, 1998)

Skywriting: A Novel of Cuba

Ms. Engle, Cuban American, draws from her own experience to write this novel about a half-brother who tries to leave Cuba from a raft during his sister's illegal visit.  Carmen has only known her brother for two hours before he leaves, but she stays in Cuba to help his stoic mother, Mariso, through this vigil. Each day, in secret, they listen to the radio to hear if the balseros (the ones who escape by water) have made it to America. When Carmen does return to the States, she brings the package given to her by her half-brother for safekeeping. 

This novel really brings to light how hard it is for anyone to plan and execute an escape from Cuba. During the Elian Gonzalez trials, I loaned this book out to several people to help them get a better grasp of the miracle of the boy coming to shore and the reasons the Miami Cuban community wanted to keep him here so badly. One of the other viewpoints in this novel is the irony of politics between generations and how they can separate a mother from her son.

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About the Author:

Margarita Engle (photo by William Ahrend)Margarita Engle is the daughter of a Cuban mother and an American father, a painter who traveled to Cuba to paint the the picturesque city of Trinidad. Engle was educated as an agronomist and botanist, and worked as an Associate Professor of Agronomy at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She later studied creative writing with Chicano novelist Tomás Rivera. She is a prolific short story writer whose list of publications include journals and magazines such as Nuestro, The Americas Review and Revista Interamericana. She has also contributed non-fiction articles to national magazines including Vista, Hispanic, South American Explorer, and others. Her opinion column on topics ranging from culture and history to personal experience has been syndicated since 1982 to more than 200 newspapers. She is the recipient of the prestigious Cintas Fellowship for 1994-1995. She has traveled extensively in Cuba and other parts of Latin America, and is an active member of Freedom House and the PEN U.S.A. West Freedom to Write committee.

She lives in Clovis, California with her husband and two children. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014