Your question is not trivial at all and I'm glad you made it.
Crime fiction is the most popular literary genre in Cuba. It
doesn't matter if a book is a masterpiece, an average-quality
book, or a disaster; it will sell anyway. But in my opinion,
the facts that all Cuban publishing houses are state-owned,
and that for many years an inflexible Communist cultural
policy was enforced, acted against national authors and
readers alike. Writing critically about the social roots of
local crime, of corruption in government circles, almost
always implied your book wouldn't be published. This has been
eased a little in the last five or six years, but there's
still much to change in editorial policy.
I consider that, as in other countries, crime fiction in Cuba
has been the victim of its own success. Most ivory-tower
intellectuals resent the fact that one of them devotes ten
years of his life to researching and writing a biography of
some great historical figure and it sells perhaps two
thousand copies. Then he learns that a crime author wrote a
second-rate thriller in ten months and its 50,000-copy print
run sells out in two months. Although market considerations
were negligible here in the 80's, the fact that crime fiction
sold well made publishers publish some very bad crime books
and use the profits to partly subsidize less popular works.
Would it be possible that this happens in other countries as
More on which to base my view that crime fiction has been the
victim of its own succes. Few low-quality poetry books get
published because hardly ever poetry books sell well. So,
poetry publishers are extremely choosy, only publish the best
they get. Low-quality crime fiction, on the contrary, goes to
print on a daily basis, in the US, the UK, France, Germany,
everywhere, because there's a market for it. Only the worst
manuscripts get rejected.
It has been well-publicized that president Castro is a keen
reader and friendly with Garcia Marquez. I ignore whether or
not he reads crime fiction, neither the authors/books he
I want to seize this opportunity to express my gratitude to
all other Rara-Avis members for their kind and encouraging
Best of luck to all.
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