The Untold Story of Hemingway in Revolutionary Cuba

Ernest Hemingway first landed in Cuba in 1928. In some ways he never left. After a decade of visiting regularly, he settled near Cojímar—a tiny fishing village east of Havana—and came to think of himself as Cuban. His daily life among the common people there taught him surprising lessons, and inspired the novel that would rescue his declining career. That book, The Old Man and the Sea, won him a Pulitzer and, one year later, a Nobel Prize. In a rare gesture of humility, Hemingway announced to the press that he accepted the coveted Nobel “as a citizen of Cojímar.”

In Ernesto, Andrew Feldman uses his unprecedented access to newly available archives to tell the full story of Hemingway’s self-professed Cuban-ness: his respect for Cojímar fishermen, his long-running affair with a Cuban lover, the warmth of his adoptive Cuban family, the strong influences on his work by Cuban writers, his connections to Cuban political figures and celebrities, his denunciation of American imperial ambitions, and his enthusiastic role in the revolution.

With a focus on the island’s violent political upheavals and tensions that pulled Hemingway between his birthplace and his adopted country, Feldman offers a new angle on our most influential literary figure. Far from being a post-success, pre-suicide exile, Hemingway’s decades in Cuba were the richest and most dramatic of his life, and a surprising instance in which the famous American bully sought redemption through his loyalty to the underdog.

ANDREW FELDMAN spent two years conducting research in residence at the Hemingway Museum and Library in Havana, Cuba. He has taught at Tulane University, Dillard University, and the University of Maryland. He lives with his wife in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“This is a life-and-times volume about an extraordinary life conducted in extraordinary times.” —LA Times

“Original … eloquent, evenhanded … engagingly traces Hemingway’s remarkable journey as an American writer and mythmaker on many levels. … A fresh and fair assessment of Hemingway’s life and work that refreshingly avoids slipping into hagiography.” —*starred* KIRKUS REVIEWS

“[ERNESTO] offers new takes on Hemingway’s literary friendships, extramarital affairs, and mixed feelings about Castro’s revolution. As Cuba and Hemingway continue their mystical and divisive holds on the American consciousness, Feldman’s book provides useful background.” —BOOKLIST

Ernesto is among the most important Hemingway titles to appear in recent years. Comprehensive, nuanced, and full of timely new perspectives, what sets this book apart is the author’s attuned and sensible approach to complex political and cultural affairs.” —Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera, author of In Paris Or Paname: Hemingway’s Expatriate Nationalism

“So much has been written about Ernest Hemingway, but this book is outstandingly different. Unlike any other I know, it expresses an understanding of the context: the Cuba Hemingway visited, lived in, and loved. It will be a reference point for any researcher who wants a better understanding of the work of this iconic author, and anyone trying to penetrate the varied, fascinating, and controversial life of the Bronze God of North American literature. This is a book that is worth reading.”—Ada Rosa Rosales, Director, Museo Hemingway Finca Vigia (Cuba)