Inci­dent at San Miguel

By – May 15, 2023

Based on a true sto­ry, A.J. Sidransky’s new his­tor­i­cal nov­el takes read­ers to Cuba in 1958. Fidel Cas­tro, Che Gue­vara, and their rebel com­rades are work­ing to over­throw Ful­gen­cio Batista’s dictatorship. 

Mem­bers of Cuba’s Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, broth­ers Aaron and Moi­ses Cohen are caught up in this whirl­wind of change. Aaron is a lawyer work­ing at the Nation­al Bank of Cuba and hap­pi­ly antic­i­pat­ing his wed­ding to Beat­riz. Moi­ses is a ded­i­cat­ed rev­o­lu­tion­ary work­ing for Castro’s rev­o­lu­tion and liv­ing with Ana Tere­sa, a non-Jew­ish woman. Both want change, but Aaron prefers to work with­in the sys­tem while Moi­ses hopes to over­throw it. As the tumul­tuous events unfold, the two broth­ers dis­cov­er the infight­ing and cor­rup­tion of the new regime. Aaron decides to leave Cuba for the US with his wife and young daugh­ter, but he has prob­lems obtain­ing the nec­es­sary visas. Moi­ses learns that peo­ple he trust­ed are cor­rupt. This includes even Ana Tere­sa, who leaves him and their daugh­ter for anoth­er man. The estranged broth­ers even­tu­al­ly meet again in New York, when Moi­ses vis­its Aaron — a vis­it that coin­cides with the bomb­ing of the World Trade Cen­ter. Although they argue pol­i­tics as usu­al, they soon come to under­stand that fam­i­ly is the most impor­tant part of life.

Giv­en our cur­rent polit­i­cal cli­mate, with its divi­sive­ness and cor­rup­tion, this well-told sto­ry feels incred­i­bly rel­e­vant. Book club mem­bers will have a great deal to dis­cuss as they ana­lyze rela­tion­ships and polit­i­cal factions.

Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.