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Trading her car and house for a folding bike and a series of rented rooms and campsites, Australian suburbanite Chiang embarked on a three-month solo trip across Cuba, from December 1999 to March 2000 (her memoir was published in Australia and New Zealand in 2003). She roamed without a master plan, bunking with Cuban families, spending time in the places where ordinary people lived, making friends, and seeing what life off the beaten tourist paths is like. While the book suffers from a certain repetitiveness--Chiang moves from one dirt-poor community to another, dossing down with one charming family after another--it offers us a revealing look at a Cuba we rarely see, a country whose citizens are still crippled by the government's anti-American political stance, living in poverty, finding small joys in the kind of life most of us can't even begin to imagine. And while Chiang's tone is generally light and breezy, it's the serious messages about politics and poverty behind the entertaining characters and comic misadventures that give the book its staying power. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"Australian vagabond Chiang’s travel memoir on Cuba works on several levels. For American adventure travelers, there is the excitement of traveling to a place your country basically forbids you to go. For solo female travelers, there are the pleasures and horrors (beware of flashers in the city of Cienfuegos) of exploring a place on your own terms. For cyclists, there is perhaps the challenge of bicycling Cuba’s long and varied terrain. Although Chiang sees fantastic sites, it is really the people she meets who provide her with her fondest memories. Average Cubans share their daily rations with her, welcome her into their homes or yards (for camping) for days, and basically show her a good time. But it is not all idyllic. Besides being assaulted in Cienfuegos, Chiang falls victim to petty thefts, harassing touts, price gouging, and the general oddness of Cuba’s version of tourism separation. Through it all, she keeps her good sense of humor and a positive outlook. Wonderfully literate, entertaining, and insightful; recommended for public libraries." [Originally published in Australia.—Ed.] —Lee Arnold, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
A witty, sharp, articulate book. Cyclists will be immediately attracted by the narrative of solo trip through Cuba, and on this ground alone the book is gripping. Read morePublished 6 months ago by EES
I took the Handsomest Man In Cuba as my reading companion while traveling and truly enjoyed the authors accounts of her travels through Cuba on a bike. Read morePublished on October 13, 2012 by DRDLTG
I stumbled on this book as it was a featured read at the Brooklyn Public Library. As an avid cyclist and bike-tourist wannabe, I grabbed it. Read morePublished on August 26, 2012 by tirefire
From the very first lines of a Cuban Christmas throughout the rest of the book, Lynette Chiang takes the reader onto a special and unique tour of the república de Cuba- a... Read morePublished on July 24, 2012 by Fabien L. Riviere
I'm not really a fan of travel books, but I am a touring cyclist and Lynette Chiang's description of her solo bicycle trip around Cuba immediately drew me in. Read morePublished on July 18, 2012 by Stephen Jackel, Esq.
I found it difficult to put this book down and am now sad that I have finished it! Lynette Chiang captures the reader's interest and emotions very early on in the book. Read morePublished on November 1, 2011 by M.A. Sprung
The Handsomest Man in Cuba is a great read in large part because author Lynette Chiang is an engaging person to hang out in Cuba with. Read morePublished on August 8, 2011 by Cat
I absolutely loved this book. I've read many travel books and cycling books but Lynette Chiang's keen eye and personality makes this book very special. Read morePublished on June 5, 2011 by millfleur