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A Cuban experience in Chico

Afro-Cuban poet Georgina Herrera's works are recognized all over the world. Photo courtesy of Sara E. Cooper

Afro-Cuban poet Georgina Herrera's works are recognized all over the world. Photo courtesy of Sara E. Cooper

Sarah Strausser

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On Feb. 20 at the the Chico Women’s Club, students and locals can experience a night of Cuban culture.

The feature of the night will be a reading by Afro-Cuban Georgina Herrera, author of “Always Rebellious.”

The event is a fundraiser, with all proceeds benefiting Cubanabooks, a local non-profit organization, which helps to publish Cuban authors such as Herrera.

“Cubanabooks exists first to provide a way for Cuban women to have their voices heard in the United States,” said Sara E. Cooper, Chico State professor and Cubanabooks head.

According to Cooper, after the U.S. embargo on Cuba, it has been very hard for people to import anything, including books. The U.S. has been able to order very few books in Spanish from Cuba, and Cubanabooks helps to bring those book purchases back.

“[The] whole point of Cubanabooks is to build bridges between the U.S. and Cuba,” she said.

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Sara E. Cooper, Chico State professor and Cubanabooks head. Photo courtesy of Sara E. Cooper

 

The other aspect that Cubanabooks helps is getting more Cuban women published. Women are published far less than men, even within the U.S. Cubanabooks helps to get more women published while helping to bring Cuban voices to the U.S.

When Cooper began planning the event and reached out to Herrera, the author was excited about the opportunity.

“She and I have gotten to know each other, and when I approached her, asked her if she would be willing to come, she was delighted at the idea,” Cooper said.

The profits will be going to publish the next round of books and to bring those authors to Chico too.

The event will feature traditional Cuban small plates cooked by Lisa Ricchio, Chico State alumna and professional chef. A former intern for Cubanabooks, Ricchio is volunteering her catering services to the event.

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Lisa Ricchio, Chico State alumna and professional chef. Photo courtesy of Lisa Ricchio

 

“It is funneling Cuban literature into American culture,” Ricchio said. “It is something I believe in and think is very important.”

Some of the menu items that Ricchio is most excited to present include a sweet potato croquette with a spicy aioli, and pork skewers with a mango chutney.

“We tried to really center the flavors and the theme of the food to get it to Cuban-esque,” she said.

The event will also feature a raffle, with a grand prize of a Cuban-themed basket, with $500 toward a trip to Cuba. There will also be a no-host bar, a performance by a live drumming and Afro-Cuban dance troop, and Cuban salsa music.

For more information, visit the Cubanabooks website. Purchase tickets for the event at Eventbrite.com, which are $10 with a Chico State ID, $20 for general admission and $50-$250 for VIP.

Sarah Strausser can be reached at [email protected] or @strausser_sarah on Twitter.

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A Cuban experience in Chico