For author Rosa Jordan, Cuba is never far away.
Following two non-fiction books about Cuba, she now explores that complicated culture in a work of fiction. The Woman She Was has caught the attention of critics and is cover story for the latest edition of BC Bookworld.
Jordan reads at the Nelson Public Library on October 18 at 7:30 p.m.
The Woman She Was brings Celia Sanchez — Fidel Castro’s “significant other” — to life through the imagination of a present-day Havana pediatrician, Celia Cantú. As Dr. Cantú struggles to cope with an off-the-rails teenaged niece, difficult lovers, and problems at work, she experiences moments in which she imagines that she is not her sensible doctor self, but has become her namesake — the courageous rebel leader Celia Sánchez.
Jordan’s many trips to Cuba have helped her understand why this true heroine of the revolution, who has been largely overlooked by historians, means so much to modern Cubans. Sanchez was a private person who granted no interviews, which was why Jordan chose a fictional approach to reveal glimpses, through her main character, of the elusive woman Sanchez was.
“Every woman is the woman she was, the woman she is, and the woman she wants to be,” says Jordan. “It often takes an examination of who we once were to understand who we are now and who we have the potential of becoming. It is not only Celia Cantú who faces this challenge, but also the nation of Cuba. The ‘she’ in the title is as much Cuba as it is the story’s two Celias.”
Jordan’s literary novel, Far From Botany Bay, was the 2011 One Book, One Kootenay selection. She has also written four books for young adults and the award-wining TV movie, The Sweetest Gift.
Jordan, who has developed several grass-roots environmental and social justice projects in places such as Guatemala and Ecuador, lives with her husband in Rossland.