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December 6 @ 7pm

December 6 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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Speaker: Ruth Behar
Moderator: Jennie Lieberman


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.




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December 6
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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