December 6 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Letters from Cuba
Toward the end of 1937, eleven-year-old Esther writes to her father in Cuba, begging him to allow her to leave Poland and join him in his new home. Like many other European Jews in the years leading up to World War II, he has sought refuge abroad and is planning to send for his family when he has established a business and can afford to pay for their passage. He agrees to Esther’s request, hoping that she will be able to assist him in his work. Ruth Behar’s moving novel for young readers invokes many familiar and resonant themes: the insecurity of new immigrants, the terrors of antisemitism, family relationships strained by wrenching changes. There are also unique dimensions to this book, based partly on the author’s family history. Behar’s lyrical descriptions of Cuba, and her perspective as a professional cultural anthropologist, form a rich background to Esther’s story.
Ruth Behar was born in Havana, Cuba to a mixed Ashkenazi-Sephardic family. She grew up in New York, and became the first Latina to win a MacArthur Genius Grant. A cultural anthropologist, poet, and fiction writer, she explores Jewish identity in Latino and Cuban contexts in her award-winning middle-grade novels, Lucky Broken Girl and Letters from Cuba. A graduate of Wesleyan and Princeton, Behar is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.