Relevant reads: Three novels about Cuba

Dusk on the Malecon
Dusk on the Malecon, the roadway and seawall that is a gathering place for Cubans and tourists in Havana, Cuba.
Nate Ryan | Classical MPR/Minnesota Orchestra

Every week, The Thread recommends a book that offers a fresh perspective on the news.

On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Havana, Cuba for a historic event: the raising of the flag over the U.S. embassy. As relations between the U.S. and Cuba improve, opportunities for Americans to travel to the island nation increase.

These three novels about Cuba will have you reaching for your passport:

"Cuba and the Night" by Pico Iyer

Many people know Iyer as a travel writer, but his fiction shines just as bright. A British citizen, Iyer has been traveling to Cuba for 25 years, and he brings it to life in his novel. "On almost every page you can smell the dust, the cheap perfume and the rum of Havana today, or better still, tonight," wrote the Los Angeles Times.

"The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love" by Oscar Hijuelos

Hijuelos left Cuba as a young boy, so his fiction about the island has that bewitching, dreamy quality that often surrounds early memories. "Mambo Kings" tells the story of three young Cuban musicians who leave to seek their fortunes in New York City. First published in 1989, "Mambo Kings" went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

"The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway wrote this novel while living in Cuba, and it revived his faltering career. The dialogue is irresistible, like this line from the old fisherman to a troublesome marlin:

"Fish," he said. "I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends."

Normally, I only chose one book a week, but with so many great books about Cuba, I had to pick three.

Tell me what you're reading on Twitter @thethreadmpr and @KerriMPR.

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