Wendy Guerra is a writer and she also has a facility with words. Her apartment is very nice, well located, and very safe. It was strange for me to be in her space with her friends and employees, because she is a well-known author but lives more or less normally. She clearly focuses a lot on her work and her status as a Cuban writer, and also thinks about the rest of the world.
We didn’t talk much about censorship, but she has mentioned her experience with censorship in the form of silence in other interviews. When I spoke with her I understood better the pain this act could bring her, as a writer who uses noise for her work. Even so, she remains in Havana. Many writers, such as those we read in class, have fled the country, and I’m interested to know how the number of writers who leave now and in the past compare.
She was very kind and we were also accompanied by another Cuban writer named Mandi. The apartment in which Wendy lived was very clean and full of contemporary art. We spent an hour talking with her and her friend, Mandi, about her path to writing and her feelings about words like “revolution” and about women’s race and rights. Both had a youthful energy and were full of emotion. My favorite thing was she told us that she is a “revolutionary writer” but in a different way than we think. She is original and likes innovation. For her, “the revolution” is a symbol of staying the same, not changing. She is “counter revolutionary” in the sense that she values and celebrates change.
I was super excited to talk with Wendy, her article in the New York Times was phenomenal. Upon arriving at her home, which is on the top floor of a very beautiful building with a spectacular view, we meet her and her friend, Armando. She gave us a bon bon coffee and although I had just had breakfast, I couldn’t resist. I don’t think there’s a coffee richer than that. We started talking to her, and Wendy told us about her experience growing up as a girl locked in a book and told us about a newspaper she wrote to her parents when she was little, which Princeton is buying now. We talked about how formative it was for her to be a student of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and how he helped her decide to leave the cinema and enter the world of Cuban literature. A concept with which we have interacted a lot in class and which causes me, personally, much intrigue has been about the role of intellectuals in moments of political transition. With this in mind, I asked Wendy what she thinks should be the responsibility of an author under those circumstances. She told us that when she writes she feels no responsibility and has no awareness of those in her hands. Wendy said she feels completely isolated and does not begin to take on that responsibility as a writer until after finishing her projects. She shared with us that her books cannot be published in Cuba and if we go to a bookstore or a store, we would not find it. Anyway, she told us that now with the digital world, even if it is a bit slow in Cuba, Cubans can download her book and articles from the networks.