Son of Spanish immigrants, Jose Marti spent his childhood in a strife-torn Cuba and attended high school on financial aid. Marti’s poems, essays, and articles were laced with his patriotic vigor to free Cuba from the Spanish rule. He died battling on the field at Dos Ríos.
Reinaldo Arenas was a Cuban poet, novelist, and playwright. As a young man, he supported revolutionary Fidel Castro but later became a local critic of Castro’s ideology. He was openly gay and often wrote about his life as a homosexual man. He was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987 and died by suicide in 1990.
Though Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén was trained in law, he began his career as a journalist. He served as the director of the writers’ union of Cuba and was part of the Cuban Communist Party. One of the pioneers of Black poetry, he was awarded honors such as the Stalin Peace Prize.
José Lezama Lima was a Cuban writer, essayist, and poet. He is regarded as one of the most important and influential figures in Latin American and Cuban literature. He is credited with writing one of the most prominent Spanish-language works of all time, Paradiso. Lezama's Paradiso is also counted among the 20th century's best novels.
Daína Chaviano is a Cuban-American writer best known for her fantasy and science fiction books. Along with Elia Barceló and Angélica Gorodischer, Chaviano is often counted among the three most prominent female science fiction and fantasy writers in the Spanish language. Over the course of her career, Daína Chaviano has won many prestigious awards including the International Dublin Literary Award.
Heberto Padilla was a Cuban poet best remembered for his critical depiction of the Fidel Castro-led Cuban government for which he was imprisoned. Although he initially supported Fidel Castro and his policies, he started to criticize the Castro regime openly by the late 1960s and was imprisoned in 1971.
Severo Sarduy was a Cuban poet, playwright, author, and critic of Cuban art and literature. He is best known for his works that deal explicitly with transvestism and male homosexuality. Severo Sarduy is also remembered for his novel Cobra which earned him the prestigious Medici Prize in 1972.
Lydia Cabrera was a Cuban independent ethnographer, writer, and literary activist. Cabrera published more than 100 books, including her most important work El Monte, the first major ethnographic study of herbalism, religion, and Afro-Cuban traditions. Lydia Cabrera’s research materials and papers were given to the Cuban Heritage Collection, which is part of the University of Miami's library.
Dulce María Loynaz was a Cuban poet best remembered as one of the leading figures of Cuban literature. Her contribution to Cuban literature earned her the prestigious National Prize for Literature in 1987. Dulce María Loynaz also received several other prestigious awards such as the Miguel de Cervantes Prize and National Culture Distinctive Award.
Miguel Barnet is a Cuban writer, ethnographer, and novelist. He is best known for his 1966 work Biografia de un cimarrón, which became an archetype for ethnography in Latin America. His 1981 book Gallego was later adapted into a Cuban-Spanish movie of the same title. Miguel Barnet is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the National Prize for Literature.
Roberto Fernández Retamar was a Cuban poet, literary critic, and essayist. He is best remembered for serving as the president of a popular organization called Casa de las Américas. A close confidant of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Roberto Fernández Retamar played an important role during the Cuban Revolution. He was honored with the National Prize for Literature in 1989.
Julián del Casal was a Cuban poet who went on to become an important forefather of modernistic expression in Latin America after starting his literary career at a young age. He started his own newspaper at the age of 14 and also contributed immensely to a popular Cuban magazine called La Habana Elegante.
Gastón Baquero was a Cuban writer and poet who left Cuba after the Cuban Revolution and lived in exile in Spain under Francisco Franco's regime. Apart from writing literary articles and essays for various publications, Gastón Baquero also contributed to the success of the Institute of Hispanic Culture.
Cintio Vitier was a Cuban essayist, poet, and novelist. Widely regarded as one of the most prominent writers of his generation, Cintio Vitier was honored with several prestigious awards such as the Juan Rulfo Prize, National Prize for Literature, and the Order of José Marti.
Roberto Valero was a Cuban novelist, poet, and educator. He is credited with co-creating a journal called Mariel along with Reinaldo Garcia Ramos and Reinaldo Arenas. Apart from writing novels and poems, Roberto Valero also contributed as a teacher at the George Washington University.