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I Gave You All I Had introduces Cuca Martinez - a.k.a. Cuquita, Cuchita, the Girl - the youngest child in a brood of five, born in prerevolutionary Cuba to a flighty would-be actress and a Chinese enthusiast of New World riches upon whom fortune has consistently failed to smile. At sixteen, she heads for Havana in search of work.
There, a pair of strumpets named La Mechanga and La Puchanga introduce her to the sweet mischief of nighttime Havana, in which she meets Juan, the love of her life - only to see him disappear for eight years. When Juan resurfaces on the eve of the Revolution, Cuca believes her dreams are finally to be realized, but the political climate and Juan's shady dealings force him into hasty exile in America.
And so Cuca, like Cuba itself, waits. She waits for the promised dreams - of happiness, of plenty, of joy, of love - to arrive, and watches her country slide into a barren, repressive slumber. And while she waits, Cuca and her friends struggle, in the midst of those shattered dreams, to survive: they improvise, they scavenge, they make love, they remember, and above all, they talk.
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About the Author
Zoé Valdés was born in Cuba in 1959 and has lived in exile in France since 1995. Once dubbed "the Madonna of Cuban literature," she is the acclaimed author of several novels, including Yocandra in the Paradise of Nada and I Gave You All I Had, both published by Arcade. Besides being awarded the 2013 Azorín Prize for The Weeping Woman, she has won the Planeta Prize and the Premio de Novela Ciudad de Torrevieja. She received the Tres Llaves (Three Keys) to the city of Miami in 2001. She lives in Paris.