Friday, October 21, 2011

Literature as an antidote to propaganda - Jose Manuel Prieto

North American Books I Read as a Child in Castro's Cuba
October 19, 2011

José Manuel Prieto, The Paris Review

Fabulous final two paragraphs:
"However, if my history of the American books I read as I child in Castro's Cuba explains anything, it's the power of literature to undo any stereotype, to annul even the most terrible accusatory campaigns and propagandistic platforms. Literature does more for the rapprochement of nations than thousands of well-intentioned speeches.

For me, literature was an antidote to propaganda—one that helped me gain a more human idea of the country presented as our main enemy, as always spying on us and ready to invade us. What image did I have, after all of these books, of Americans? They were obsessed in Faulkner, candidly provincial in Lewis, neurotic and scrawny in Salinger, brutally alone in Carver. A population—how to put it?—of humans, perfectly ordinary."

José Manuel Prieto is a New York–based novelist and translator. His latest novel, Rex, was published by Grove. He teaches literature at Seton Hall University.
Translated by Regina Galasso.

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