Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Sick Sunflowers, Santeria and Suffering: The Short Stories of Surama Ferrer

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2013), 90, (2), 189–204.

Abstract

The collection of twelve short stories published in 1953 by the little-known Cuban woman writer Surama Ferrer has attracted scant critical attention, despite its varied and disturbing content. With elements of the supernatural fused with santeria, the stories relate to the female life cycle in terms of birth, blood, menopause and death. Peppered with violent incidents, they contain shocking events including suicide and infanticide. Family relationships are characterized by fracture, bitterness and hatred, as if blood ties have no relevance. Why are these stories so dark and pessimistic in terms of gender and family relationships? What is the significance of allusions to santeria and the magical powers of the sunflower? This article will attempt to unpick the various themes and devices present in these stories, in an effort to draw conclusions about the stability of family and gender relationships in mid twentieth-century Cuba.

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Ferrer, Surama, 1953. El girasol enfermo. Cuentos (Havana: Impresora Mundial). El girasol enfermo. Cuentos Google Scholar

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Lumsden, Ian, 1996. Machos, Maricones and Gays: Cuba and Homosexuality (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press). Machos, Maricones and Gays: Cuba and Homosexuality Google Scholar

Martínez, Julio, 1990. Dictionary of Cuban Literature (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press). Dictionary of Cuban Literature Google Scholar

May, Charles, 1995. The Short Story: The Reality of Artifice (New York: Twayne Publishers). The Short Story: The Reality of Artifice Google Scholar

McClave, Heather (ed.), 1980. Women Writers of the Short Story: A Collection of Critical Essays (London: Prentice-Hall). Women Writers of the Short Story: A Collection of Critical Essays Google Scholar

Moi, Toril, 1985. Sexual Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory (London and New York: Routledge). Sexual Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory Google Scholar

Smith, Lois, and Alfred Padula, 1996. Sex and Revolution: Women in Socialist Cuba (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press). Sex and Revolution: Women in Socialist Cuba Google Scholar

Yañez, Mirta (ed.), 2004. Making a Scene: An Anthology of Short Stories by Cuban Women Writers (London: Mango). Making a Scene: An Anthology of Short Stories by Cuban Women Writers Google Scholar

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Author details

Ingham, Jill