Stephen Purvis - Close But No Cigar - Orion Publishing Group

Time remaining

  • -- days
  • -- hours
  • -- minutes
  • -- seconds
Other Formats
  • E-Book £P.O.R.
    More information
    • ISBN:9781474605076
    • Publication date:23 Mar 2017

Close But No Cigar

A True Story of Prison Life in Castro's Cuba

By Stephen Purvis

  • Hardback
  • £18.99

An eye-opening account of a year spent in a Cuban jail on false spying charges - with all its horrors and absurdities.

'In its tragic absurdity, Close but No Cigar reads like a Graham Greene story, with a cast of characters to make Hemingway proud ... [This] tale should be read by anyone who wants to understand what lies beyond the beaches and Bacardi [of Cuba]' DAILY TELEGRAPH

For over a decade Stephen Purvis had been a pillar of Havana's expat community, one of many foreign businessmen investing in Cuba's crawl from Cold War communism towards modernity. But for reasons unknown to him he was also under State Security's microscope. One morning during the height of President Raúl Castro's purges in 2012, while his family slept the unmarked Ladas of State Security arrived at his home and he was taken away into the absurd and brutal world of Cuban justice.

In this engrossing memoir, Purvis recounts his fifteen-month ordeal. Accused at first of selling state secrets, he is taken to the notorious interrogation centre Villa Marista, where he endures brutal conditions designed by the KGB and Stasi to break the bodies and minds of spies and political prisoners, and resists the paranoia and incompetence of his jailers. Later, held in a maximum-security prison, he finds himself surrounded by a motley crew of convicts: people-smugglers and drug-runners together with a handful of confused businessmen also awaiting formal charges.

From his arrest to his farcical secret trial and sudden release, Purvis exposes the madness of modern Cuba with wit, grit and a sharp eye for character. As tourists flock to Havana to marvel at a city frozen in time, he shows that despite reforms and international reconciliation the Castro regime remains a corrupt, dictatorial relic. CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR is part thriller, part comedy and part morality tale, but most of all a true story that takes the reader into a dark side of a sunny place that remains an enigma.

Biographical Notes

Stephen Purvis is a Wimbledon-born architect. In 2000 he moved with his wife and four young children to Havana, where his building projects included factories, luxury hotels and a container port. In his thirteen years in Cuba he became a longstanding director of the international school, enjoyed a spot of boxing and the odd cigar, took up painting and to the surprise of all co-produced with Sadler's Wells Theatre the hit dance show Havana Rakatan. He returned to Britain in 2013 and now works in Myanmar.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9781474605045
  • Publication date: 23 Mar 2017
  • Page count: 272
  • Imprint: W&N
The Cuban conundrum is that little is what it seems ... In its tragic absurdity, Close but No Cigar reads like a Graham Greene story, with a cast of characters to make Hemingway proud ... his tale should be read by anyone who wants to understand what lies beyond the beaches and Bacardi — Harriet Alexander, DAILY TELEGRAPH
This is a book worth reading by all those who ever thought Fidel Castro's regime was a kindly form of socialism ... Purvis has written a gripping and sardonic description of a corrupt and dictatorial country behind the tourist facade — CATHOLIC HERALD
Orion

At First Light

Vanessa Lafaye
Authors:
Vanessa Lafaye
W&N

My Father's Wake

Kevin Toolis
Authors:
Kevin Toolis

Death is a whisper in the Anglo-Saxon world. But on a remote island, off the coast of County Mayo, death has a louder voice. Along with reports of incoming Atlantic storms, the local radio station runs a thrice-daily roll-call of the recently departed. The islanders have no fear of death. They go in great numbers, often with young children, to wake with their dead. They keep vigil through the night with the corpse and share in the sorrow of the bereaved. They bear the burden of the coffin on their shoulders and dig the grave with their own hands. The living and the dead remain bound together in the Irish Wake - the oldest rite of humanity.For twenty years writer and filmmaker Kevin Toolis hunted death in famine, war and plague across the world before finding the answer to his quest on the island of his forebears. In this beautifully written and highly original memoir, he gives an intimate, eye-witness account of the death and wake of his father, and explores the wider history of the Irish Wake. With an uplifting, positive message at its heart, My Father's Wake celebrates the spiritual depth of the Irish Wake and shows how we too can find a better way to deal with our mortality, by living and loving in the acceptance of death.

W&N

Some Fantastic Place

Chris Difford
Authors:
Chris Difford

Chris Difford is a rare breed. As a member of one of London's best-loved bands, the Squeeze co-founder has made a lasting contribution to English music with hits such as 'Cool For Cats', 'Up The Junction', 'Labelled With Love', 'Hourglass' and 'Tempted'. Even before his first release in 1977, his love of writing lyrics has never wavered. Over the course of a thirteen-album career with Squeeze, it was clear from the very beginning that Difford has few peers when it comes to smart, pithy lyricism. His 'kitchen-sink drama' style has drawn plaudits from fans on both sides of the Atlantic, and his influence is keenly felt today. The likes of Lily Allen. Mark Ronson, Kasabian, Razorlight and many more have recognized the debt they owe to Squeeze's music and to Difford's way with words, while journalists were moved by his winning combination with Glenn Tilbrook to dub the pair 'The New Lennon and McCartney'.In Some Fantastic Place, Chris Difford charts his life from his early days as a dreaming boy in south London with a talent for poetry to becoming a member of one of Britain's greatest bands and beyond. Along the way he reveals the inspiration and stories behind Squeeze's best-known songs, and his greatest highs and lows from over four decades of making music.

W&N

The Book of Emma Reyes

Emma Reyes
Authors:
Emma Reyes
W&N

Get Me the Urgent Biscuits

Sweetpea Slight
Authors:
Sweetpea Slight
Orion Spring

Lessons I've Learned

Davina McCall
Authors:
Davina McCall
W&N

Blood and Silk

Michael Vatikiotis
Authors:
Michael Vatikiotis
W&N

I Must Belong Somewhere

Jonathan Dean
Authors:
Jonathan Dean
Trapeze

My Beautiful Struggle

Jordan Bone
Authors:
Jordan Bone
W&N

Waiting for the Albino Dunnock

Rosamond Richardson
Authors:
Rosamond Richardson

'A beautiful book' Tim Birkhead, author of BIRD SENSE'A glorious, beautifully written pilgrimage into the soaring world of birds' Bel Mooney, DAILY MAILWritten by a beginner-birdwatcher with the freshness and passion of a convert, WAITING FOR THE ALBINO DUNNOCK explores the world of birds through the seasons of a single year. It describes encounters with particular birds in the landscapes of East Anglia where the author is rooted. Occasional journeys farther afield take the reader to truly wild places in the Outer Hebrides and Eastern Europe. Yet the ordinary experience of birdwatching is also far more than just that. The beauty of birds has the power to change lives, as it did the author's, and as in the case of the all-but-legendary snow leopard, it is more about the search than the result.Personal and elegiac in tone, the writing is an unusual combination of prose poems based on the actual experience of seeing a specific bird for the first time, woven with elements of science and wisdom traditions, ornithology (and its punning counterpart ornitheology), mythology and philosophy, taxonomy and history, literature and folklore, conveying the wider picture of what it means to be human in relationship to nature. WAITING FOR THE ALBINO DUNNOCK explores the degree to which wildness is embedded in the human psyche and how beauty is central to our mental and emotional wellbeing, while highlighting the careless damage we are inflicting on the natural world.

W&N

Traveling with Ghosts

Shannon Leone Fowler
Authors:
Shannon Leone Fowler

'A cross between H is for Hawk and Wild, this beautifully written tale follows Fowler's travels through Eastern Europe after her fiancé was killed by a jellyfish' Stylist'A brave and necessary record of love, as beautiful as it is heartbreaking' Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth'A rich and absorbing memoir that shows the reader what it feels like to lose your future in a matter of seconds in a faraway land . . . Shannon learns to travel on, to get back in the ocean and to build a new life' Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love'Gloriously rendered, beautifully written, but utterly devastating . . . an intimate and inspiring experience . . . balm to the soul, as well as being a necessary witness account of the blackest depths of grief' Viv Groskop, ObserverIn the summer of 2002, Shannon Leone Fowler was backpacking with her fiancé Sean in Thailand. The couple were planning to return home after their excursion to the island of Koh Pha Ngan but their plans were devastated when a box jellyfish - the most venomous animal in the world - wrapped itself around Sean's legs, stinging and killing him in minutes. Rejecting the Thai authorities' attempt to label Sean's death as 'drunk drowning', Shannon accompanied his body home to his stunned family - a family to which she suddenly no longer belonged.Shattered, untethered and alone, Shannon set out on a journey to make sense of her loss. From contemplating the silence of Auschwitz to learning the rules for sitting shiva amid daily bombings in Israel, to finding humour and creativity in Sarajevo, a city still scarred by the recent war, Shannon charts a path through sorrow towards recovery. Traveling with Ghosts is a beautiful memorial to love and an intensely personal account of learning to live with grief. It is the story of a brave journey towards survival.

Gateway

Mystic and Rider

Sharon Shinn
Authors:
Sharon Shinn
W&N

Pour Me

A.A. Gill
Authors:
A.A. Gill
W&N

Rise

Sian Williams
Authors:
Sian Williams

'A week after my 50th birthday and just as our family was about to move home, something happened that changed the way I looked at life. I spoke to others about how they rebuilt their shattered worlds after very different personal traumas, emerging stronger than before. I hope our experiences, together with the latest science on resilience, will help guide all those going through tough times. This book says that it's possible not just to survive them, but to thrive. To rise.'Renowned as a much-loved and highly respected journalist and broadcaster with thirty years' experience, Sian Williams has studied the impact of acute stress for many years and is also a trained trauma assessor.In RISE, she explores the science of resilience and growth after trauma, offers advice from the experts, and learns from those who have emerged from horrific experiences, feeling changed yet stronger, with a new perspective on their life, their relationships and their work. She also documents her own path through breast cancer, with candid and unflinching honesty. Her story provides a narrative thread through a book designed to help others deal with all manner of adversity, including physical or mental ill health; loss of a loved one; abuse and post-traumatic stress.RISE is a deeply researched exploration of trauma, grief and illness, and most importantly resilience in the darkest of days. It is an inspiring and powerful piece of work, full of honesty, warmth and wisdom.

W&N

The Actual One

Isy Suttie
Authors:
Isy Suttie

'Isy Suttie turns the painful process of growing-up into something laugh-out-loud funny, and for that I could kiss her' - Bryony Gordon, author of The Wrong Knickers'A cross between Lena Dunham and Victoria Wood' Sunday TimesIsy woke up one day in her late twenties to discover that the invisible deal she'd done with her best mates - that they'd prolong growing up for as long as possible - had all been in her head. Everyone around her is suddenly into mortgages, farmers' markets and nappies, rather than the idea of running naked into the sea or getting hammered in Plymouth with eighty-year-old men. When her dearest friend advises her that the next guy Isy meets will be The Actual One, Isy decides to keep delaying the onset of adulthood - until a bet with her mother results in a mad scramble to find a boyfriend within a month.From papier-mâché penguins to being stranded on a dual carriageway in nothing but a fur coat and trainers, THE ACTUAL ONE is an ode to the confusing wilderness of your late twenties, alongside a quest for a genuinely good relationship with a man who doesn't use moisturiser.

Orion

Pigs in Clover

Simon Dawson
Authors:
Simon Dawson
W&N

Going Off Alarming

Danny Baker
Authors:
Danny Baker

The dazzlingly funny second volume of Danny Baker's memoirs: the television years.Since my first book was published I have had countless friends and family members get in touch to say how come I hadn't included this story or that tale. Was I ashamed of being shot twice, once up the arse, in Jamaica Road? How long should a man live with such a secret? If by retrospectively dropping my trousers every few pages I can reveal a fuller picture of myself during these years, then so be it.Besides. Being shot up the arse. In front of your mates.What else did I forget?

W&N

Call the Midlife

Chris Evans
Authors:
Chris Evans
Orion

Outcast Child

Kitty Neale
Authors:
Kitty Neale

Wonderful saga set in Battersea and Clapham from the author of A CUCKOO IN CANDLE LANE.In this powerful evocation of working-class South London in the 1950s, drama and heartbreak wreak havoc in the life of young Daisy Bacon, guardian of her Cousin Lizzie.When her mother Judith is run over and killed outside their house, Daisy retreats into a world of silence. Blaming herself for the accident, the girl is unable to utter a word. The happy family home becomes a prison, with her stepmother Vera as the cruel jailer. It is cousin Lizzie, who will always remain a child, who brings sunshine back to Daisy's life. However, only when Henry Bacon discovers his new wife's shocking secret does Daisy herself find true happiness, and in a way that she could never have anticipated...

W&N

Hons and Rebels

Jessica Mitford
Authors:
Jessica Mitford