Cuba to South Florida story based on local’s ‘Fat’ life

Raul Ramos y Sanchez opens his newest novel, “The Skinny Years,” with a picture of pre-Castro Cuba in the late 1950s. What follows is a trip down South Florida’s nostalgia lane tracing Victor “Skinny” Delgado’s life growing up as an immigrant. It details both the left-behind Cuban lifestyle filled with parties and mansions to sleeping on the floor in a shack in “free America.”

The book’s main character is a composite, based partially on Key West’s very own Tony “Fat” Yaniz and his family’s life after they moved to Miami from Cuba. Yaniz grew up down the street from the author.

“Skinny is a composite of Fat, me, and some of the other neighborhood kids. But it is mostly about Fat’s family’s move to America, and his challenges,” said Ramos y Sanchez. “Their family’s house in Miami was my second home growing up.”

After losing contact with the Yaniz family when he moved to Ohio his senior year in high school, a flash of luck struck in 2006 when Ramos y Sanchez decided to write this book and Google the Yaniz family. Chiqui Yaniz popped up. “Fat’s brother literally made his website live the day before to sell real estate in Costa Rica,” he said. “I sent him an e-mail saying I didn’t think there were too many Chiqui Yanizes.” The two families resumed their close friendship.

“Who would have thought the two of us kids growing up on the streets of Wynwood would be going there to do a book signing next week at a restaurant we used to pass by every day on our walk to school,” he said. “I am so excited to share this with him.” (See sidebar for local book signing info.)

With other political novels regarding the Cuban revolution — “American Libre,” “House Divided,” and “Pancho Land” — “The Skinny Years” fit well into Ramos y Sanchez’s repertoire of exiled Cuban-Americans. The book is filled with Miami’s growth in the ’60s and ’70s, and touches on civil rights, the Cold War, and the hippie era in a light coming of age story.  


Raul Ramos y Sanchez will be signing “The Skinny Years” on Friday, Jan. 6 at 6 p.m. at Books & Books at The Studios of Key West on Eaton Street. Key West’s Tony “Fat” Yaniz will join him at the signing.



The author of “The Skinny Years” Raul Ramos y Sanchez (number 17) with one of the book’s inspirations and his neighbor growing up Tony “Fat” Yaniz (number 35) in 1967.

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