"Before Night Falls" is Reinaldo Arenas's stunning autobiography - a bold and unrestrained account of his life as a writer and a homosexual. Arenas, acknowledged as one of the great 20th-century Cuban writers, was born in 1943 into a poor, rural Cuban family. At the age of 15, he joined Castro's guerrillas against Batista's right-wing regime, only to discover that repression under Castro would be on a monumental scale. Reinaldo Arenas spent 20 years of his life trying to survive his "re-education, " to safeguard his manuscripts, and to maintain his sanity when he was imprisoned in El Morro prison in Havana. But despite everything that happened to him, including betrayal by his aunt and some of his closest "friends, " Arenas triumphed, finally leaving Cuba during the Mariel exodus in 1980. But America could never replace his beloved Cuba, and his anti-Castro stance made him unsympathetic to many American intellectuals. The final irony was his battle with AIDS, which dominated the last years of his life until he committed suicide on December 7, 1990, at the age of 47. "Before Night Falls" was begun before Arenas left Cuba and was completed in the last stage of the disease. It is an extraordinary document - a compelling and moving account of the hell that Arenas experienced in Cuba and the purgatory he endured in the U.S. It is a book both raw and fierce, tender and lyrical, particularly about the Cuban landscape. In it you will discover a man of enormous vitality, resilience, and courage.
Arenas writes of his own book, "I tell my truth like a Jew who has suffered from racism, a Russian who has been in the Gulag, or any human being who has eyes to see things as they are: I cry out:therefore I am."
About the Author
Reinaldo Arenas was born in Cuba in 1943. In the 1970s, he was imprisoned multiple times for being gay, which clashed with the beliefs of the Communist regime. Despite the hardships imposed during his imprisonment, Arenas produced a significant body of work, including his Pentagonia, a set of five novels written between the 1960s and 1980s that comprise a secret history of post-revolutionary Cuba: Singing from the Well, Farewell to the Sea, Palace of the White Skunks, Color of Summer, and The Assault. In 1980, he was one of 120,000 Cubans who arrived in the United States on the Mariel boatlift. Arenas, ill with AIDS, committed suicide in 1990 shortly after completing Before Night Falls.