Fantasy Island

DREAMING IN CUBAN

by Cristina Garcia

Knopf; 245 pages; $20

What most Americans know about Cuba is Fidel Castro in fatigues and Ricky Ricardo singing Babalu. Its geography is Havana, a bad movie starring Robert Redford, and -- somewhere on the coast -- something called the Bay of Pigs. Add memories of big cigars, and white sugar, which now poses a greater threat to American health than communism. Otherwise, Cuba has been a closed port 90 miles off the U.S. coast, the plague island of the Caribbean.

For the children of gusanos (worms) -- Castro's vilification of the Cubans who fled...