“Gálvez’s fresh, vivid, personal, and direct prose is a delight to read. We travel in time with these spontaneous writings, and we can feel the pain and the endurance of Cuban émigrés and patriots in nineteenth-century Tampa longing for their Patria.”—Madeline Cámara Betancourt, author of Cuban Women Writers: Imagining a Matria
“Gálvez opens an important and interesting window into the lives of pioneering Cuban émigrés in nineteenth-century Ybor City. His vivid, first-hand descriptions of life in that exile community serve as testament to the many contributions Cubans made to the city’s economic and social development, as well as the great sacrifices and efforts they made for the cause of Cuban independence.”—Felix Masud-Piloto, author of From Welcomed Exiles to Illegal Immigrants: Cuban Migration to the U.S., 1959–1995
In 1896, Wenceslao Gálvez y Delmonte fled the violence of Cuba’s war for independence and settled in Tampa. He soon made his new home the focus of a work of costumbrismo, the Spanish-language genre built on closely observing the everyday manners and customs of a place.
Translated here into English, Gálvez’s narrative mixes evocative descriptions with charming commentary to bring to life the early Cuban exile communities in Ybor City and West Tampa. The writer’s sharp eye finds the local characters, the barber shops and electric streetcars, the city landmarks and new Cuban enclaves. One day, Gálvez offers his thoughts on the pro-independence activities of community leaders like Martín Herrera and Fernando Figuerdo. On another, our exiled bourgeois intellectual author wryly recounts his new life as a door-to-door salesman and lector reading aloud to workers in a cigar factory.
Tampa: Impressions of an Emigrant includes photographs and newspaper clippings, a foreword on Gálvez’s extraordinary pre-exile years, extensive notes to the translation, and a wealth of other supplementary material putting the author’s life and work in context.
Wenceslao Gálvez y Delmonte (1867–1951) was a Cuban-born baseball player, lawyer, and writer who chronicled the Cuban diaspora in the late nineteenth-century United States. Noel M. Smith, deputy director and curator of Latin American & Caribbean Art at the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, has translated many books and exhibition catalogs. Andrew T. Huse, a librarian with the University of South Florida’s Special Collections department, is the author of From Saloons to Steak Houses: A History of Tampa.