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Prison Diary LVIII: Inside Prison, Outside the Drawer / Angel Santiesteban
Posted on October 13, 2013

This last 13 September, a Friday, while the Instituto Cervantes de
Berlín was presenting my novel “El verano en que Dios dormía” (The
Summer God Was Sleeping), the winner of the Czech Republic’s
International Franz Kafka Prize of Novels from the Drawer, I was
overcome by fever. The dengue fever virus had taken over my body and
sapped my strength.

While my strength gave way, my mind, in turn, was concerned with
defending, as always, that little space of harmony in which, like an
inner island, I live and immerse myself, to protect myself from so much
injustice and evil coming from the Communist Government. From that
imaginary place, I feed myself and construct the events in that distant
and endearing country where my friends and brothers await, and where I
was close to those excellent intellectuals — Jorge Luis Arzola, José
Miguel Prieto, and Amir Valle — and as a panelist, the German editor,
cultural maven and person of immense feelings, the imponderable friend
and godmother of writers from the “Los Novísimos*” generation, Michi
Strausfeld — who is presenting my novel, promoting it, and as if that
weren’t enough, making the world aware of the injustice committed
against me, and why I am incarcerated.

Knowing the work of the Cuban Government, presumably they would
elaborate a scathing plan to wreck this cultural space, and they tried
to through a public letter from the German “Cuban Network” foundation,
accustomed to giving its support to the Castro brothers’ totalitarian
regime, a foundation whose right we recognize to do so, however unjust
it seems, coincidentally the same right to criticize, expound on
reasons, points of view, that we demand for all Cubans, and which for
realizing we are punished with impunity, as every dictatorship does
against those who reject its designs.

The truth is that neither the regime nor illness diminished the joy of
feeling myself a physical part of the presentation at the Berlin
International Literature Festival. Between the fatigue and high fever, I
thought about the book, friends, readers.

It is my infinite desire to thank those who have, for several years,
supported the competition and brought to light books that the Regime
censors, and thanks to this beautiful and just effort, prevented these
literary creations from sleeping in drawers; I also thank the Jury who
awarded the prize to my novel; and the intellectuals, cultural promoters
from different countries, and my friends who put so much effort into
this presentation, and above all for their political and social ideals,
giving weight to culture, our primary reason for being. And to the Czech
NGO “Banned Books,” and their clear cultural management.

The novel “The Summer God Was Sleeping,” like the rest of my books,
attempts to be a photograph of my time, to give a voice to those
testimonies of Cubans who risked and are risking their lives to achieve
freedom and rights, and who cross the Strait of Florida, trying to evade
the pursuit of the dictatorship, in order to leave behind the material
shortages and political repression. On this they wager their most
precious possession, their lives. Once again, I try to present my time
and our time. I know that’s not enough, I need to double my efforts, and
to this I bravely turn my efforts.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. October 2013

*Translator’s note: “Los Novísimos” (The Newest) is a name that has been
given to Cuban writers such as Angel who began to publish in the 1990s —
during the so-called “Special Period” — and whose works reject the
values of the Castro regime.

8 October 2013

Source: “Prison Diary LVIII: Inside Prison, Outside the Drawer / Angel
Santiesteban | Translating Cuba” –

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