This is, for many reasons, an amazing book. Monika provides the reader with a deep, dynamic, and introspective portrait of Cuban society and her own, intimate experience of the Revolution. It shows, with absolute honesty, the evolution of her thought and conscience, forged in the crucible of her tireless struggle as an educator, wife, mother, and citizen. It is a portrait of her dreams, disappointments, hardships, and contradictions, always with a deep love for Cuba, an identification so endearing that being a German by birth and upbringing, the original Spanish text of her memoir is written in the purest “Cuban” language. A book, undoubtedly exciting and unforgettable, and a wise and sensitive translation by Regina Anavy.
What a bold, intrepid woman. Everything about Monika is original. She combines a fierce sense of mission with a tender-hearted maternal instinct which jostle each other through the pages of this unputdownable and riveting read. As I finished, I was left with one regret: how I would have enjoyed getting to know her. Kudos to her sons for having made this unique story available to an English reading public.
In the Orwellian Cuba of the 1980s, Monika Krause was a fresh wind of sexual freedom, a hammer breaking down prejudices and a bullhorn for repressed desires that didn’t find acceptance in the public discourse. The story of her life is also a journey through a country full of yearning, fear, and disruption.
Monika became one of the most beloved characters in the country, and more than that, a symbol, and even more than that, a counselor for thousands and thousands of boys and especially girls who did not know how to face puberty and adolescence. Like many Cubans who once believed that the revolution would lead us to utopia, Monika Krause eventually realized that totalitarianism lay behind the dream, and she decided to return to her origins, to Germany. But she would never again cease to be Cuban. Monika will be inscribed in the best humanist traditions of our country, as this magnificent book proves, for which we will never be grateful enough.
As I reflect about Monika Krause’s Cuban memoirs, I recall, again and again, with that force of permanence that only prophecies have, what I thought the first time I saw the Queen of Condoms presenting a sex education book to a large audience, as early as 1980: “We have to build a monument to that bold woman“.
Monika Krause, Queen of Condoms is an extraordinary memoir that chronicles the painful journey of a young and naive idealist, but exceptionally intelligent woman. She experiences firsthand the clash of utopian ideas with the impracticality of their implementation in the hitherto prosperous and idyllic Caribbean island. Ultimately, she becomes a champion for sex education in a society dominated by mendacious puritans and poisoned by machismo. When the reader opens this book, I promise he or she will not be able to put it down.
What an epic ending to your memoir, Monika! You wonder if it was worth sacrificing your youth. You wonder if you were able to help just one person, if you were able to relieve just one despair. I'll tell you: I am that person. And you know that like me there were many other women who received the seed of your light. Therefore, I repeat to you today, wherever you are: Yes Monika, it was worth it!