“A Greek Love”, by Zoé Valdés

A free spirit who spends time near the port of Havana, where her friend Osiris is known as the “Greek sailormen’s whore,” teenager Zé becomes pregnant after a brief love affair with a captain’s son her age. By the time she realizes her condition, the ship has left and the boy is gone. In her father’s Cuba, an unwed teenage mother is a source of scandal and shame and a threat to his ambitions in the Party. He disowns her and brutally throws her out of her home. Led by her mother, she leaves the city for refuge in Matanzas, a university town rich in Afro-Cuban culture, where her mother’s sister, a music scholar, lives and where she will raise her child mentored by these three older women—aunt, mother, and Osiris.

Years later, Zé’s son, Petros, has become a world-class musician bridging Cuban and Greek traditions, while Zé has become a scholar herself. When a recording executive invites Petros to give concerts in Greece, Zé seeks permission from the authorities to leave the island and accompany him. Secretly—a secret they guard from the authorities and her father, now a Party stalwart—they both nourish the hope of somehow finding Petros’s father and Zé’s one great, lost love.

With echoes of the breakout novel that made Zoé Valdés an international literary star, A Greek Love is a tale of passion, endurance, and hope—and a woman’s tenacious love.

About the Author

Zoé Valdés was born in Cuba in 1959 and worked with UNESCO and the Cuban Cultural Office in Paris between 1983 and 1988. In exile in France since 1995, she has been a screenwriter and assistant director of the magazine Ciné Cubano. Her bestselling debut novel, Yocandra in the Paradise of Nada, brought her international acclaim—she was once dubbed “the Madonna of Cuban literature”—and she has written many more novels, including I Gave You All I Had and The Weeping Woman, both published by Arcade. Winner of the Planeta Prize, Azorín Prize, and Premio de Novela Ciudad de Torrevieja, she received the Tres Llaves (Three Keys) to the city of Miami in 2001. She lives in Paris.

David Frye teaches anthropology and Latin American culture and society at the University of Michigan. As a professional translator he has published more than thirty books in translation, ranging from Heart of Tango (2010) by the Spanish novelist Elia Barceló and the sixteenth-century picaresque novel Lazarillo de Tormes (2015) to the poetry of Nancy Morejón. He resides in Ann Arbor.

Praise for A Greek Love

“This spare, beautifully written novel encompasses the whole world and the enduring geography of love in all of its expressions. Zoé Valdés has given us a heroine whose fierce and loyal love of her family and families is inspiring and unforgettable. This novel is a journey and a mournful, joyous song. “—Marita Golden. author of The Wide Circumference of Love

“[A Greek Love is] a deceptively simple book, like all things Cuban. Zoé Valdés is so good at shining a light on the pages that are not there by showing us the ones that are. Her Cuban characters are brave, but they are also, realistically, a product of a totalitarian regime where silence is survival. All of that is present in this short page-turner. As is, of course, in true Valdés fashion: love.”—Vanessa Garcia, author of White Light

“Unforgettable.”—Daniel Fernández, Nuevo Heraldo

“This novel lifts a song of hope.”Le Soir

“Zé, as is often the case with Zoé Valdés’s characters, incarnates—along with a naturalness and spontaneity of spirit that are her strength as well as her weakness—a force of life that refuses to be contained, a call to freedom, a take on the world that evades constricting codes and other shackles.”Le Matricule des Anges

This beautifully-written novella packs so much into so few pages! I loved the peek into Cuban life, as well as all the lovely descriptive details the author included.”—Hello Little Home

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