In June 1998, the English-speaking world was introduced for the first time to Cuban writer Calvert Casey, who had died in 1969 at the age of 45. Well known in the world of Latin American literature, 1998 marked the first time that his complete works were translated into English and published in one volume entitled Calvert Casey: The Collected Stories. Upon its publication, the following was written in Publishers Weekly: "This volume is a fine overdue introduction to one of Communist Cuba's most sophisticated writers."
Calvert Casey was born in Baltimore in 1924 to an Irish-American father and a Cuban mother, moving to Cuba as a small child.
His childhood was described by a friend as being "isolated from other children because of his violent stutter."
Other accounts attest that the severity of his stuttering continued into adulthood. Friends and critics alike credit his stuttering for his developing characters in his writing that are uprooted, disenchanted and alienated.
In the New York Times book review, James Polk wrote, "Casey writes from the shadows with certainty and fluent assurance of one who knows them well."
His most famous short story is The Homecoming, which is about a person who severely stuttered who enthusiastically returns to his beloved Cuba during the onset of the Castro regime only to find himself a target of attacks by government agents. Another quirky story is The Execution in which a man is sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit and never refutes the charges.
Casey was in exile during the last part of the Batista regime, where he lived in New York and wrote magazine articles. Returning to Cuba when Fidel Castro took power, he was prominent among the intelligentsia surrounding Castro and wrote for several government publications.
However, he became totally disenchanted with the political situation in Cuba and went into exile in Rome, where he wrote his famous novella "Notes of a Simulator".
In 1969, struggling with personal issues as well as his severe stuttering, Casey took his own life; on his desk he left open a Henry James book with an underlined passage which read: "He was a man too fragile to live in this world."
While Calvert Casey only wrote one novella and sixteen short stories in his career, he is well known in Latin American literary circles; ironically, he remains ignored by the Cuban literary establishment.
He frequently mentioned stuttering in his writing as he struggled with it every day of his life.
With the publication of his works in English it is hopeful his writing will receive the same recognition in the English-speaking world that it has received in Latin America.