Spotlight: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Inspired by true events in her family’s history, Chanel Cleeton beautifully illuminates the enduring heartbreak and unwavering hope of a country torn by revolution. “Chanel Cleeton’s prose is as beautiful as Cuba itself, and the story she weaves—of exile and loss, memory and myth, forbidden love and enduring friendship—is at once sweeping and beautifully intimate.” —Jennifer Robson, USA Today bestselling author of Somewhere in France “A vivid, transporting novel. Next Year in Havana is about journeys—into exile, into history, and into questions of home and identity. It’s an engrossing read.” —David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife Advance praise for Next Year in Havana Next year in Cuba! For over half a century, exiled Cuban Americans have celebrated with this traditional toast—a bittersweet sentiment that captures the steadfast belief and dashed hopes of a future where they return to their beloved home country. 
Chanel Cleeton beautifully portrays this complex and deeply passionate feeling with her new novel, NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; February 6, 2018; $16.00), a story about a young woman who travels to Havana to honor her late grandmother’s dying wish—and unearths a family secret hidden since the Cuban Revolution. Alternating between Cuba at the moment of Fidel Castro’s political ascension and the country that emerged in its wake, Cleeton brings to life the pivotal moment in history that forced a small nation into the center of a socialist movement and the focus of the world’s attention. Cleeton drew inspiration for her novel from her own family’s desperate departure from the country and her personal struggles with being torn between two cultures. 

In NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA, we meet Elisa Perez and Marisol Ferrera, separated by time and generations, but bound together by blood and their love for a country they never dared dream to see again. In 1958, nineteen-year-old Elisa is the daughter of a sugar baron and member of Cuba’s high society where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest—until she finds herself involved in a clandestine affair with an impassioned revolutionary that changes the course of her life. More than fifty years later, her granddaughter, Marisol, returns to the country to fulfill Elisa’s last wish to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth. Once in Havana, Marisol soon follows in her grandmother’s footsteps when she finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own. Told through the alternating voices of Elisa and Marisol, NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA is a remarkable story of passion in politics and culture. At its heart, the book is a love letter to Cuba and Cleeton’s writing will seduce you from the first page. Touching on topical themes, Cleeton brilliantly uses commercial fiction to illuminate difficult issues such as identity and immigration, while giving a humanizing perspective through the lens of family and romance. Equal parts sweeping love story and historical fiction, NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA is an extraordinary tribute to an important chapter in history. 

Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. 

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