In Making Home in Havana (Rutgers University Press), Vincenzo Pietropaolo, a photographer, and Cecelia Lawless, a professor of romance studies, explore the notion of “home” in two Havana neighbourhoods. Havana is the site of anachronism for the rest of the Americas: when we look at Havana in photographs and movies, we feel the power of memory in the unrepaired façade of another age, the decaying old Fords and Chevrolets, and a dystopian glimpse of the future seems to beckon and to offer a warning at the same time. These sensations are not available to the citizens of Havana, who make their lives in real time: they cannot live in the scenery of the past that we see them inhabiting. Life in Havana is hard, and the people in these photographs, whose words comprise most of the text, are straightforward in their talk: “Human dignity, one has to take care of it,” says one of them. “Every society has its problems. We have ours, let us live them. Freedom. I have nothing to do with the state. I work. Look at the bicycle I use for work. Now wait a minute. I am not complaining. The tire is bald, it has no rubber left, and I don’t have the money to buy a new one, but I forge ahead with no complaints. That’s what I’ve got. I don’t have any choice.” This is a book for browsing and it is best read in several directions. The words in the text (quoted from interviews) are never attributed, so the reader is never certain who is speaking: I found this to be disconcerting. Nevertheless this is a compelling work on more than one level. We want to know these people from within their lives; at the same time we cannot help admiring the peeling surfaces of their homes and streets; we feel ourselves tempted in unsavoury ways: we have to question ourselves. This is strong material, but the book lacks a firm sense of purpose: we never learn what motivates the photographer and the author, who are North Americans (one Canadian, one American), to go into the homes of these people—whose struggle, in the words of Lawless, is a “daily quest for dignity and grace”—in order to ask questions.