While most authors are usually nervous that no one will read their book, Armando Correa has a different issue. His debut novel, The German Girl, has been seized by the Book Institute of Cuba, a government agency that monitors the country’s publishing industry.
The shipment of American books (including 100 copies of Correa’s) were held at Cuban customs, while the rest of the titles were released, with only Correa’s confiscated. This comes after a request to have the author sign his books at the USA Pavillion at the Havana Book Fair were rejected. However, as Correa told Publishers Weekly, he’d assumed his books would still be allowed to be displayed at the venue.
“The fair, organized by the Cuban state and its institutions, reserves the right to set forth a program which it considers to meet the objectives the country has proposed,” said President of the Book Institute of Cuba Juan Rodriquez Cabrera.
However, Correa, a Cuban-born exile and editor in chief of People en Espanol, was able to attend a ceremony held at the Sephardic Hebrew Center in Havana, where he donated research materials he’d collected as part of the writing process for The German Girl, to their Holocaust collection. Ambassadors from Poland and Norway, as well media outlets, were in attendance.
Correa’s best-selling novel is set in 1939 and follows the story of young Anna Rosen, who reconnects with her great aunt Hannah, who tells her the story of how when she was 12, she and her family had boarded the St. Louis, in an effort to flee Nazi-dominated Germany for Cuba. However, as the 937 passengers learned upon arrival, the Cuban government refused them entry, with only 28 passengers granted permission to disembark.
“I’m a Cuban exile and my book is about fear of the other—be it the fear of a different politics or fear of a different god,” said Correa in an interview with Publishers Weekly. “That’s the problem with the Cuban government. I’m not an initiator of protest, I’m not a political person, but I am independent, and they’re scared of me.”