Closed For Repairs by Nancy Alonso

Nov 21

As part of the Orbis Terrarum Reading Challenge I chose Closed For Repairs by the Cuban author, Nancy Alonso.

Closed For Repairs is a book with 11 short stories written from the perspective of the unique Cuban experience, the resilience Cubans demonstrate with the ever-increasing problems that seemingly go on forever without hope for resolution and without access to the resources necessary to resolve them bureaucratically or even themselves. In a country ousted from the world economy by an unnecessary embargo kept in place via money and political influence, the Cuban people are forced to overcome a lack of resources needed to fill fundamental basic needs such as a roof that doesn’t leak or loom overhead ready to fall in on its inhabitants at any moment, concrete to fill a pothole that threatens to swallow up an entire street bringing many things within the town to a halt, or even constant access to water or extra food to fill a hungry belly. Every Cuban suffers the economic repercussions of an aging country without enough resources to repair itself. But they do so with humor, ingenious creativity and a perseverance that you and I can hardly fathom.

With a block of Styrofoam, a pail, and some elbow grease a Cuban can fix a toilet system with limited rotating water schedules and no automatic pump to bring the water to them, forced to walk back and forth with buckets to fill up a homemade cistern…all while feeling empathy for those in countries without access to clean water. This is Cuban resilience.

These stories really do tell the Cuban story. Having studied in Cuba, I saw the debilitating limits of everything from transportation without fuel to finding a piece of packing tape! Cuba is a country filled with innovative people who refuse to give up or feel sorry for themselves despite tremendous gaps in every facet of every day living. And they do so in such good humor that you cannot help but fall in love with the enduring spirit of these beautiful people.

The 11 stories in Closed For Repairs capture the Cuban spirit perfectly. These stories may seem over the top or exaggerated but I assure they are not. Each one is an accurate depiction of every day Cuban life. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious about Cuba, Cubans or the capacity for people to struggle and persevere in grace and humility.

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