A few weeks back I had the chance to sit down with author Anna Lidia Vega Serova. A few other classmates were there and we had the opportunity to ask her questions about writing, hybrid identities and how it was to live in the USSR. The last two fields of questions particularly interested me.
I quickly identified with her when she started to speak of going back and forth between Home and home and the alienation she felt in either of these places. For example, when she was in the USSR people saw her as Cuban and vise versa, much like me in the US and France. What fascinated me even more was the distinction she made in her artistic life. As she explained, she is a Cuban author, not because that sells more but because she writes in Spanish and her books are mostly published in Cuba. However, she is a Russian-Cuban painter because she recognizes that she draws a lot from both cultures. I am eager to see if my professional life becomes more like her author career or her painter one.
I was always taught that the USSR was a despicable country that mistreated all of its people, and most of this still holds true to me. However, after speaking with Anna Lidia Vega Serova, I realized that her life there wasn’t as terrible as most history books made it seem. What she hated the most was the weather and not the communist leadership that was in place at the time. Furthermore, she noted that the USSR was a socialist country that aimed to become a communist one but was still nowhere near that goal. Having lived in both Cuba and the USSR, two very socialist and controversial countries, she explained that life was never as bad as the media portrayed it.