Hornby Island author brings Cuban culture to the forefront

Hornby Island author brings Cuban culture to the forefront

Amanda Hale reads from Angela of the Stones at Courtenay Library

Amanda Hale lives on Hornby Island. But she loves Cuba – so much so, it has become the setting for a couple of novels, the second of which has recently been released.

Angela of the Stones is Hale’s second novel of short stories, set in Baracoa, a town near the eastern tip of Cuba.

“Each story is from the perspective of a different character, but they should be read consecutively, because there are characters who have appeared in previous stories,” Hale explained. “It’s all about the culture of this one place within Cuba. There are 16 stories in all, and only one of them is not set in the town of Baracoa. That one is set in Miami.”

The novel is a follow-up to In the Embrace of the Alligator.

“That one was rather autobiographical; it was my attempt to come to terms with the ever-changing, fluid culture of Cuba,” said Hale. “It’s a bewildering place, really. But these [Angela of the Stones] stories, I am not in them at all.”

Hale’s affinity with Cuba goes back 15 years, when she went there as an artist of a different capacity – a visual artist – to paint a mural in support of the revolution.

“We spent six weeks in Havana, and I was learning Spanish, as well as learning about the warmth and the inclusiveness of all these Cuban people, which impressed me greatly,” she said.

She returned to Havana a couple of years later, to paint another mural, and during that visit, she explored the country to some degree, ending up in Baracoa.

“I just fell in love with that place,” said Hale. “It just captured my imagination.”

Hale attempts to bring out the authentic Cuba in her novels. Rather than using Americanized resorts as settings, she has chosen a town true to its Cuban culture.

“There are a lot of people that just go to Veradero, or Caya Coco, and they come back with what I know to be a really false impression… it’s not at all like that. So really, I am writing to try and dispel some of the information that people outside of Cuba have about the country and about the people.”

And while the short stories are works of fiction, there is an element of truth as well.

“Most of the stories are based on people that I have either observed, been acquainted with, or know very well,” she said. “They are fictional, they are my imagination. But [I used] people who are a great inspiration to me. In fact, Cuban people, as a whole, are a great inspiration to me… they have had a very hard struggle to survive, and I have a great feeling for them.”

Hale is hosting a reading of Angela of the Stones Tuesday, Nov. 27, 6:30 p.m. at the Courtenay Public Library.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Comox Valley Sports Centre re-opened in the summer. Photo supplied
Comox Valley Sports Centre Commission chair commends staff efforts in challenging year

Comox Valley Sports Centre Commission chair Daniel Arbour delivered a year-end report… Continue reading

The Lamplighters wants to end its lease with the village. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Briefs: Cumberland agrees to end hall lease with Lamplighters

Council aims to add more daytime meetings in 2021 for seniors

A rendering of the proposed window covering and sign for the business planned for downtown Cumberland. Image, Village of Cumberland report
Cumberland approves location change for cannabis permit

Site next door to the one planned seen as more financially feasible

The DPAC is holding an online forum on Nov. 30 for candidates for the upcoming school district byelection. Screenshot DPAC poster
Online forum for Comox Valley school board byelection is Nov. 30

Six candidates have filed papers to fill the trustee position in Area C

The Food Share program volunteers pack supplies for food-insecure families. Screenshot, CCSS website
Cumberland council OK’s money for food program

Community school group asks to use unused money to help families

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Randy Bell. (File photo)
Former northern B.C. mayoral candidate arrested after allegedly refusing to wear mask

Randy Bell handcuffed and given a warning at Bulkley Valley Credit Union in Smithers

Most Read