Map Drawn by a Spy


Translated from by

Published: August 29th, 2017





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Book Description

Found in an envelope in Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s house after his death, Map Drawn by a Spy is the world-renowned writer’s autobiographical account of the last four months he spent in his country. In 1965, following his mother’s death, Infante returns to Cuba from Brussels, where he is employed as a cultural attaché at the Cuban embassy. When a few days later his permission to return to Europe is revoked, Infante enters a period of suspicion, uncertainty, and disillusion. Unable to leave the country, denied access to party officials, yet still receiving checks for his work in Belgium, Infante discovers the reality of Cuba under Fidel Castro: the imprisonment of homosexuals, the silencing of writers, the closing of libraries and newspapers, and the consolidation of power. Both lucid and sincere, Map Drawn by a Spy is a moving portrayal of a fractured society and a writer’s struggles to come to terms with his national identity.

Completed in the 1960s, soon after Cabrera Infante’s last Cuban interlude, this memoir is an engaging sketch of a midcentury man of letters...It’s also the piercing lament of an exile, who sees his world disappearing even before he departs it.

Publishers Weekly

This book has greatly moved me, not only due to the fondness I have always felt for Cabrera Infante, but also because of what it reveals about his character, the city of Havana, and the era of the Cuban Revolution ... It is a bare and atrocious testimony of what it means when, gone the euphoria and joy of victory, a revolution transforms into supreme power, that Saturn who sooner or later devours his own children, beginning with those he finds closest, who most often are the greatest.
Mario Vargas Llosa, El País

To say that I have read Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s Map Drawn by a Spy in one sitting, and with great enthusiasm, is to cut myself short.
Juan Goytisolo, El País

The book reads with the same vertigo as that in which it was written...Map Drawn by a Spy is the intimate cartography of a farewell.
Juan Bonilla, El Mundo

Infante leaves out no detail; it is meticulous, and sad, like the account of a prisoner from a concentration camp. It does not shy away from domestic life and its worries, or romance and its intrigues, and is at every moment so laid bare as to cause itself – and the reader – to bleed...Cabrera Infante’s most heartrending book.
Juan Cruz, El País

Brimming with talent, ideas, and Infante’s original sense of humor...Map Drawn by a Spy is a book of sadness and farewells (to his friends, to his birthplace, to an entire world) but also a sort of personal purification, the kind achieved by someone who reduces a burden by narrating it. Infante does so with poignancy, lucidity, elegance, and honesty in a naked self-portrayal...In the depiction of a world that has turned spectral, in the details of a totalitarian regime of terror where everyone suspects and mistrusts each other, the author masterly describes the hardships he finds along his path.
Ernesto Calabuig, El Cultural

An exile's plainspoken testimonial, bookending Orwell's Homage to Catalonia in the literature of political disappointment.
Kirkus Review

Never didactic, this slice-of-life portrait of Cuba at a crucial moment will find readers beyond Latin American enthusiasts.
Library Journal, starred review

Map Drawn by a Spy contains a resonant lesson about doing everything in our power to avert governments and regimes that insist on the control of goods and services to the detriment of its people.
Melissa Beck, The Scofield

The novel… is without any doubt one of the most inventive and influential products of the Latin American 'new wave', and can stand comparison with the richest treasures in that EI Dorado of modern fiction.
Salman Rushdie, The London Review of Books (for Three Trapped Tigers)

With Three Trapped Tigers Cabrera Infante enters the front rank of Latin American novelists. The book belongs with Cortázar's Hopscotch, Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Donoso's The Obscure Bird of Night.
New York Review of Books (for Three Trapped Tigers)

Read an interview with Guillermo Cabrera Infante and Oscar Hijuelos in BOMB Magazine.

Read Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s obituary in The Guardian and in The Los Angeles Times.

Chosen for World Literature Today’s list of 75 Notable Translations of 2017.