Q & A with Deborah Kalb

Q: You note that you worked on this book on and off for 20 years. Why did you initially decide to write the book, and did it change a great deal during the time you worked on it?

A: As Americans we know very little about Cuba, which has been a forbidden island for us because of the almost 60-year U.S. ban on travel. I first traveled to Cuba in 1972. Twenty years later I returned with a public health delegation, and in 1996 I lived in Havana for six months and worked in the AIDS Sanatorium there.

My initial goal in beginning the writing was to shine a light on the lives of the Cubans living with HIV/AIDS I had come to know and love there. I returned with a shoebox full of taped interviews. That’s where I began—sitting at my kitchen table with an old cassette player in front of me and pressing “PLAY.”

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