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Latest ‘One Book, One San Diego’ Selection Revealed

Photo caption:

Photo by Free Press

The book cover of "Waiting for Snow in Havana" by Carlos Eire.

Latest ‘One Book, One San Diego’ Selection Revealed

GUEST:

Carlos Eire, author, "Waiting for Snow in Havana"

Transcript

For 10 years, the One Book, One San Diego program has brought the region's readers together. This year, they'll come together over the story of a young boy's journey from Cuba to the U.S. in Carlos Eire's memoir "Waiting for Snow in Havana." In his book, Eire describes life amid the Castro revolution and his escape.

Eire fled Cuba in 1962 without his parents when he was just a child. Eire was one of about 14,000 Cuban children brought to the U.S. as part of Operation Peter Pan.

He says the idea behind the book came from his country’s separated families

“I was separated from my own family," Eire said on KPBS Midday Edition. "For three and half years I came to the U.S. by myself. And then the Castro regime would not allow my parents to leave. As a matter of fact never allowed my father to leave. I never saw him again. The last time I saw him was at the airport when I was 11.”

Eire, now a professor of religion and history at Yale University, typically authors academic books with titles such as "Reformations: Early Modern Europe 1450-1700," but says he was prompted to write the memoir after people described the 2000 fight over Cuban student Elián González as a "custody battle."

"One of my specialties is the way in which symbols are understood, but I didn’t really understand the power of a symbol until the boy showed up one day on ABC News and instead of mentioning his name, the label applied was 'Cuban Boy,'" Eire said.

The book came out in 2003, but Eire said it is still relevant to readers today, even for those who have little interest in current U.S.-Cuba relations.

"It’s set in a certain place and a certain time but it’s really about life, it’s about being human, it’s about coping with unexpected turns in one’s life, dealing with loss," he said. "It’s about oppression and one’s response to oppression. The book is many things at once."

Eire will be at the San Diego Central Library Sept. 20 to kick off this year's One Book, One San Diego events.

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