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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Letters From Alain
by Enrique Pérez Díaz
Age Range: 12+
This is the moving story of Arturo, a twelve-year-old boy living in Cuba who is trying to come to terms with the fact that his best friend, Alain, has secretly left the country with his family in a boat. He tries to understand why, but the adults confuse him by providing conflicting views on whether Alain's family’s decision was right or wrong.
Letters start mysteriously arriving for Arturo, supposedly from Alain. However, when Alain’s dog, White Fang turns up it merely confirms what the adults had feared all along. Arturo experiences a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from bewilderment to anger, then sadness and finally acceptance as he realises that he will probably never hear from his friend again.
This short novel by Cuban author Enrique Pérez Díaz is a deceptively simple tale written in short, sharp sentences. The author reflects the experiences of illegal emigration from Cuba which will be relevant to the current generation of readers.
Letters from Alain has been translated from the original Spanish by award-winning translator Simon Breden and beautifully illustrated by Francisco Solé.