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Chanel Cleeton

Real Fiction Radio Broadcast: May 26, 2021 WERA (96.7 FM) Streaming-

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba is a richly observed novel set in the cutthroat world of Gilded Age Journalism and Revolutionary Cuba. Impeccably researched historical fiction with thrilling insight into 'journalism of action' and the women who fought in Cuba's fight for independence from Spain.

Real Fiction Radio.

Revolutionary Cuba and the world of New York Newspapers during the late 19th century Gilded Age come to life in Chanel Cleeton’s latest novel THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN CUBA. In this sweeping historical drama, readers get an account of American foreign policy during an era of journalism known as “journalism of action”, sometimes called “jailbreaking journalism”. Chanel Cleeton introduces to reader real life events surrounding a prominent newspaper’s role in releasing a woman named Evangelina Cisneros from a Cuban prison, which had the effect of galvanizing support for the US intervention against Spain’s control of Cuba.


It’s 1896, and while New York is absorbed in the glitz and glamour of the Gilded Age, Cuba is occupied by Spanish forces. Eighteen-year-old Evangelina Cisneros is living in political exile with her father in Cuba when she catches the attention of a prominent Spanish official. After rejecting his advances, she is imprisoned in a deplorable women’s prison center.

At the same time, a fierce competition for dominance in the news cycle is led by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. Their newspapers battle for headlines and readership―to earn money, but also to influence public opinion. Budding young journalist Grace Harrington is trying to make a name for herself in the industry, and takes a job writing for Hearst. Grace catches wind of the conditions in Cuban prisons, and is assigned to report on Evangelina’s story. When Hearst names Evangelina “The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba,” slapping her picture across the front page of his newspaper, he sparks a groundswell for American intervention in the battle for Cuban independence.

As the United States becomes increasingly involved in Cuba’s affairs, Marina Perez, a young Cuban woman, undercover informant, and member of Cleeton’s beloved fictional Perez family, carries critical information about the explosion of the USS Maine that further propels the US into conflict.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN CUBA encourages readers to take a critical eye to the stories and voices we choose to amplify. Cleeton’s novels are often led by strong-willed women who are called to act at varying points in Cuban-American history. In her latest, the author demonstrates how, when each individual woman’s voice is heard, it has the power to make a difference and, ultimately, to sway the course of history.

Chanel Cleeton

Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Next Year in Havana (2018) whisked readers back to 1950s Cuba and introduced us to the Perez family, following the story of sugar heiress Elisa Perez and the events leading up to her family’s desperate departure from the country. When We Left Cuba (2019), which instantly debuted on the New York Times bestseller list, tackled American-Cuban politics in the 1960s and the CIA’s mission to defeat Fidel Castro, as seen through the lens of Perez daughter Beatriz. And The Last Train to Key West (2020) another instant bestseller and featuring a third Perez relation, is set against the backdrop of The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, a storm so intense that it remains one of the three worst Atlantic hurricanes on record.

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