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Kleist, Reinhard

Havanna. Eine kubanische Reise
(Havana: A Cuban Journey)

Carlsen, October 2008, 96pp.
ISBN: 978-3-551-73434-1

Comic and street artist Reinhard Kleist spent four weeks in Cuba in 2008, nearly always with sketchbook in hand. The resultant work is categorised as a graphic novel, but really it is more of a graphic travel notebook, enlivened as it is not only with comic-strip-style drawings of Havana itself but of the picturesque old town of Trinidad and the beautiful rural valley of Vinales. The middle pages of this humorous and original offering are a four-page-wide fold-out picture of Malecon, Havana’s seafront promenade, with a wash of sunset colours lighting up the city, its chaotic roads and its people, walking out, eyeing each other up, fishing, or just sitting on the beach.
There are plenty of interesting details and anecdotes in the often handwritten script to keep the reader turning the page, but the only connecting thread running through some of them is the author’s preoccupation with having an internet connection with the outside world, which farcically culminates in his procuring a black-market connection with Google. But this crashes too, and the best the dubious friend who claimed he could provide it can do is to offer his pals two pounds of coffee for the price of one. Just a single illustration of the extent to which Cuba’s citizens are still cut off from international information and intellectual exchange – as well, of course, as certain foodstuffs. In another section Kleist ends up at a Communist Youth demonstration outside the US embassy and captures this strange Cold War place in his pictures, with a forest of Cuban flags almost blocking the embassy building from view. Later he sees a ceremony of the Afro-Cuban santeria religion.
In short this highly-thumbable book is a wonderfully subtle and atmospheric combination of drawings and text that touches lightly on important questions without ever letting them weigh the reader down on what is essentially a great adventure.

‘Images full of expression are Kleist’s great strength.’
Die Zeit

‘In Havanna Reinhard Kleist proves once again that he is not only a wonderful and prolific artist but that he also possesses a fine feeling for story and mood. His sketches… sensitively capture the at times bewildering contradictions of Cuba. His style is dynamic, his powers of observation for small but meaningful scenes are considerable.’
Der Tagesspiegel


Reinhard Kleist was born in 1970. After graduating in graphic arts, he moved to Berlin where he now shares a studio with other comic artists. His comic books have won several awards, including the most prestigious one for German comic publications, the Max und Moritz award which he received for Cash.

Previous works include:
Cash (2006)

Translated editions are published in:
Havanna – Italy, Greece, South Korea. Cash – The Netherlands, Greece, Croatia, Italy, France, Spain. Under negotiation: English world rights.


Application for assistance with translation costs – Germany

Translation rights available from:
Carlsen Verlag GmbH
Völckersstr. 14-20
D - 22765 Hamburg
Tel: +49 40 39 80 42 36
Fax: +49 40 39 80 43 97
Contact: Daniela Steiner

Carlsen Verlag was founded in 1953 as a subsidiary of the Danish company Carlsen, Copenhagen, so that its series for younger children could be published in German translation. Carlsen Verlag Hamburg has been publishing its own titles since 1964, ranging from picture books for younger children to novels for young adults. Educational series include both fiction and non-fiction for kindergarten and primary school levels. Carlsen Comics were the first to introduce comic books to the German market.