From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Photographers Garoutte and Wambaugh demystify and celebrate the Afro-Cuban religions of Santería, Palo Monte and Espiritismo. The three traditions are, they note, inextricable in Cuban practice, with supplicants calling on elements from all three, as well as folk Catholicism, to improve their lives, relationships, finances and health. Garoutte and Wambaugh focus their lenses on Santiago, a retired retailer who is a renowned practitioner of Afro-Cuban religions and godfather to many initiates. Driven by powerful, evocative descriptions and scene-setting, the book delves into the various rituals and spiritual practices that take place in the back rooms of Santiago's Cuban home. Following a precedent set in 1991 by Karen McCarthy Brown in her innovative book Mama Lola
, in which a scholarly observer of an Afro-Caribbean religion gradually becomes a participant in her own right, these authors do not attempt to maintain skepticism or distance from the subject they cover, and are gradually initiated into both Santería and Palo Monte. What results is a respectful, vibrant account of Afro-Cuban religions, enhanced by more than 150 vivid photographs. (Feb.)
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“Crossing the Water is an amazing book that takes you on a wondrous journey into the world of Santería, Palo Monte, and Espiritismo. Claire Garoutte and Anneke Wambaugh have gone the extra mile to document the religions honestly and with a healthy respect for the participants and their beliefs. This is truly an extraordinary document about a world of Cuban religious faith that has rarely been visited in such detail by outsiders.”—Eli Reed, Magnum Photos
“Crossing the Water is at once mysterious, encompassing, and illuminating. Most importantly, it is a deeply moving journey in which the various parts equal the whole. We must leave aside our predilections and ideas from what we know to enter this very personal territory. Upon repeated viewings and readings, the depth of this project reveals itself. Through the dedication of Claire Garoutte and Anneke Wambaugh we are allowed a meaningful glimpse of a further world elucidated by the images and writings of two who entered it.”—Robert Lyons, photographer, Intimate Enemy: Images and Voices of the Rwandan Genocide, Another Africa, and Egyptian Time