Cuban Writer Cristina Garcia Talks Miami's Literary Scene, 9/11, and Identity Issues

Cristina Garcia - prominent Hispanic novelist, creative writing professor, and founder of Las Brujas Writers Workshop - is all over the map these days. A quick glance at the Miami literary scene places Garcia, if not at the helm, then certainly among the best-known writers in the city. Invited to participate in an author panel held by Granta Magazine at independent bookstore Books & Books, Garcia will be one of three writers representing the local perspective on 9/11, ten years after the fact.

She will also be participating in a writer's salon held by the University of Miami, also at Books & Books. Besides her upcoming literary events, Garcia released a novel, The Lady Matador's Hotel, in 2010; she is also working on young adult novels and poetry collections. Even as busy as she is, Garcia managed to answer some questions for New Times after the jump:

New Times: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?

Christina Garcia: I'm a writer and teacher. In the past, I've written

such novels as Dreaming in Cuban, The Agüero Sisters, Monkey Hunting, A

Handbook to Luck, and The Lady Matador's Hotel. This semester, I am a

visiting professor at the Creative Writing Program at the University of


How has your experience been at the University of Miami?

Great! The classes are small, and the students are very enthusiastic. By

the third class, they already "got it." They're involved, and eager,

and overall, really great.

Are you from Miami?

My parents live in Miami, and for that reason, I travel (and live here)

about once a year. I was born in Cuba to Guatemalan and Cuban parents,

and grew up in Brooklyn, but I've traveled to Miami throughout my life.

How has your identity influenced your work?

I like writing about situations where people question their identity or

have their identity transformed by internal/external events.

So you have some events at Books & Books coming up?

On [Wednesday], the University of Miami is hosting a "writer's salon"

where John Murillo (visiting Creative Writing professor at UM) and I

will be reading and discussing our work.

Besides that, Granta Magazine, one of the most noted literary magazines

in the world, is hosting events all over the world to commemorate the

9/11 attacks. The author panel at Books & Books on September 11 will

discuss morality, politics, and aethestics post 9/11

in Miami. Edwidge Danticat and Diana Abu-Jaber are also on the panel,

which will be moderated by M. Evelina Galang. Both events should be

really interesting!

What perspective can Miami offer on 9/11?

Books & Books, I believe, is one of the great bookstores in the

world, and one of the two places I always make sure to visit while I'm

in Miami - Versailles Restaurant is the other. It has hosted great

literary events in the past, and so really is an appropriate place for

Granta to host their panel. Also, M. Evelina Galang, the director of the

Creative Writing Program at the University of Miami, and the moderator

of the Granta 9/11 event, has done a great job promoting and bringing a

great deal of cultural diversity to the program. I really think the

literary community in Miami has a lot to offer and is very promising.

Granta 116: Ten Years Later takes place Saturday (the day before the 10 year anniversary of 9/11) at 5 p.m. at Books and Books (265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables). For more information call 305-442-4408 or visit booksandbooks.com. The event is free.

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