Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz
Theater Communications Group, New York, 2003
Winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Borrowed from the library.
Oh, how I would love to see this on stage. Cruz has written a lush, steamy play that brings to life a time and place in history and is brimming with human need and desire.
Set in Tampa in 1929, the story takes place in a Cuban-American factory where cigars are still rolled by hand and “lectors” read novels and stories aloud to the workers. A new “lector” arrives from Cuba and chooses to read “Anna Karenina.” His audience approves of this choice but the longer he reads the more the novel becomes entwined in the workers lives. Tolstoy and the tropics prove to be an unsettling combination.
The words of this play are as rich as the music of Cuba. Bright, rhythmic, sensual. I could hear soulful guitar and staccato percussion as I read. It is fascinating, reading a talented playwright, the words create the scenes, sounds and atmosphere in my head. Nilo Cruz is a master and I plan on reading more of his work. And, if at all possible, seeing his work on stage.
I have been considering reading the new translation of Anna Karenina over the summer. Reading Anna in the Tropics has added weight to this idea.