This inspiring island has been immortalized in novels, poems and films from Cold War intrigues to tales of love in the city. Follow the trail of your favourites to see the sights behind the set and pen.
t A scene from Our Man in Havana, starring Alec Guinness
The movie of Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana, which is set in pre-revolutionary Cuba, was filmed in the city. Wormold, the hapless protagonist who feeds fabricated information to MI6, lives on Calle Lamparilla, taking his daughter to Tropicana for her birthday and famously frequenting Sloppy Joe’s.
This 1999 movie brought together a bunch of aged and forgotten musicians, and launched Cuba-mania. It was largely filmed on the streets of La Habana Vieja and Centro Habana; roaming the calles (streets), you’ll often hear songs by the ensemble drifting down the cobbles.
Set in the grim days of the “Special Period”, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez’s gritty, unsentimental and salacious 2002 novel is located amid the crowded tenements of Centro Habana. Gutiérrez’s novel pulsates with sex, drugs, alcohol, music and the picturesque streets of Havana. The novel is banned in Cuba.
Cuba’s only Oscar-nominated movie, Strawberry and Chocolate (1993) tells the story of David, a student who agrees to spy on Diego, a homosexual artist seen as an enemy of the Communist regime. The film opens at Coppelia ice cream parlour in Vedado; the flavours are loaded with sexual meaning: strawberry for gay; chocolate for straight.
Ernest Hemingway used his real-life experiences with the fishermen of Cojímar – where he berthed his boat, Pilar – as the basis for his 1952 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel. A bust of the author looks over the bay, while the paintings above the bar at La Terraza de Cojímar honour both the writer and the story.
Cuba On Page, On Screen
His Baroque-style novels are infused with magic-realism.
Guillermo Cabrera Infanta
This exiled novelist was renowned for his Three Trapped Tigers.
Journalist also known for her historical fiction.
A prolific revolutionary writer and poet.
Leonardo Padura Fuentes
Cuba’s top contemporary novelist writes gripping detective novels.