Cristina García (journalist)

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Cristina García
Cristina García.jpg
Born (1958-07-04) July 4, 1958 (age 61)
Havana, Cuba
OccupationNovelist, journalist
Notable worksDreaming in Cuban
Notable awardsNational Book Award nomination

Cristina García (born July 4, 1958) is a Cuban-born American journalist and novelist. After working for Time Magazine as a researcher, reporter, and Miami bureau chief, she turned to writing fiction. Her first novel, Dreaming in Cuban (1992), received critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has since published her novels The Agüero Sisters (1997) and Monkey Hunting (2003), and has edited books of Cuban and other Latin American literature. Her fourth novel, A Handbook to Luck, was released in hardcover in 2007 and came out in paperback in April 2008.

In 2009, Garcia was hired as the Visiting Affiliate Professor and Black Mountain Institute Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.[1] She has taught at other colleges including the University of Texas-Austin, Texas Tech University, and Texas State University-San Marcos, where she is the 2012–14 University Chair in Creative Writing.

Early life[edit]

García was born in Havana to a Guatemalan father, Francisco M. Garcia and Cuban mother, Esperanza Lois.[2] In 1961, when she was two years old, her family was among the first wave of people to flee Cuba after Fidel Castro came to power. They settled in New York City, where she was raised in Queens, Brooklyn Heights, and Manhattan, in predominantly Irish, Italian, and Jewish neighborhoods. Her family, however, communicated at home in Spanish and shared many stories about Cuba during her youth.[citation needed]

In 1979, she completed a bachelor's degree in political science at Barnard College, where she says a course in English stirred her interest in literature. She earned a master's degree in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in 1981. During her graduate studies, she spent a year in Italy and later returned to Europe to accept a marketing position with Procter & Gamble in West Germany, but left that job after three months.[citation needed]



After returning to the United States, García pursued a career in journalism, after having worked as a part-time "copy girl" with the New York Times. While at Johns Hopkins, she obtained an intern position with The Boston Globe that she held for a short time before becoming a reporter for the Knoxville Journal.[citation needed]

In 1983 she was hired by Time Magazine. Beginning there as a reporter/researcher, she became the publication's San Francisco correspondent in 1985, and its bureau chief in Miami for Florida and the Caribbean region in 1987. In 1988 she was transferred to Los Angeles. She terminated her employment with Time to write fiction full-time in 1990.[citation needed]


García's first novel, Dreaming in Cuban, was published in 1992. She has said that it contained ideas that had been percolating inside her throughout the 1980s, especially after her visit to Cuba in 1984.[citation needed] García later said, "I surprised myself by how Cuban the book turned out to be. I don`t remember growing up with a longing for Cuba, so I didn`t realize how Cuban I was, how deep a sense I had of exile and longing."[3]

The book received favorable critical attention and was nominated for the National Book Award. García gave birth to her daughter Pilar six months after its release, and says that her preoccupation with her pregnancy and giving birth had kept her from realizing the impact the book had had until she was doing book tours in 1997.[citation needed]

She struggled to write a strong second novel for two years before abandoning that work to start on The Agüero Sisters, which was released in 1997 and awarded the Janet Heidiger Kafka Prize. She says the inspiration for it was a visit many years earlier by a Cuban aunt to her mother in Miami that ended abruptly and left long-standing negative feelings.[citation needed]

While she has been regarded as an important Cuban-American voice in American literature, García has reported experiencing some unease in relating to other Cubans—both with those still in Cuba and those in exile in Florida. Some question why she writes in English. Others take issue with her lack of engagement in anti-Castro causes. She has said she attempts to emphasize in her novels the fact that "there is no one Cuban exile".[4] In 2007 she also said that she "wanted to break free of seeing the world largely through the eyes of Cubans or Cuban immigrants. After the first three novels—I think of them as a loose trilogy—I wanted to tackle a bigger canvas, more far-flung migrations, the fascinating work of constructing identity in an increasingly small and fractured world."[5] At this time García described this "bigger canvas" as including "the entrapments and trappings of gender in my novel", partly because "it would be easy, and overly simplistic, to frame everything in terms of equality, or cultural limitations, or other vivid measurables. What's most interesting to me are the slow, internal, often largely unconscious processes that move people in unexpected directions, that reframe and refine their own notions of who they are, sexually and otherwise."[5]

While García has expressed these desires to move away from a purely Cuban narrative voice and/or anti-Castro sentiments, the influence of her heritage is made clear when she discusses the symbolism and characters in her work. She has said, about the symbol of a tree, for example:

In Afro-Cuban culture, the ceiba tree is also sacred, a kind of maternal, healing figure to which offerings are made, petitions placed. So absolutely, for me trees do represent a crossroads, an opportunity for redemption and change. In Dreaming in Cuban, Pilar Puente has a transformative experience under an elm tree that leads to her returning to Cuba. Chen Pan, in Monkey Hunting, escapes the sugarcane plantation under the watchful protection of a ceiba tree…In A Handbook to Luck, Evaristo takes to living in trees as a young boy, to escape the violence of his stepfather. He stays there for years, first in a coral tree and then in a banyan. From his perches, he witnesses the greater violence of the civil war in El Salvador and speaks a peculiar poetry, born, in part, of his co-existence with trees.[5]

Her most recent novel, "King of Cuba", is a darkly comic fictionalized portrait of Fidel Castro, an octogenarian exile, and a rabble of other Cuban voices. She has also published poetry, books for young readers, and two anthologies.

Personal life[edit]

García lived with her daughter Pilar in Los Angeles and taught at Mills College in Oakland, California.[citation needed]


  • Dreaming in Cuban: A novel (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992) ISBN 978-0-345-38143-9
  • Cars of Cuba, essay, with photographer Joshua Greene and creator D. D. Allen (New York: H.N. Abrams, 1995. ISBN 0-8109-2631-8)
  • The Agüero Sisters (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. ISBN 0-679-45090-4)
  • Monkey Hunting (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. ISBN 0-375-41056-2)
  • Cubanisimo!: The Vintage Book of contemporary Cuban literature, editor and introduction (New York: Vintage Books, 2003. ISBN 0-385-72137-4)
  • "Introduction" to Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda [1924] (New York: Penguin Classics, 2004. ISBN 978-0142437704)
  • Bordering Fires: The vintage book of contemporary Mexican and Chicano/a literature, editor and introduction (New York: Vintage Books, 2006. ISBN 1-4000-7718-4)
  • A Handbook to Luck (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. ISBN 0-307-26436-X)
  • The Lady Matador's Hotel: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, 2010. ISBN 1-4391-8174-8)
  • King of Cuba: A Novel (Scribner, 2013)[ISBN missing]

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cristina García: Official Author Website". Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  2. ^ S., Meier, Matt (1997). Notable Latino Americans : a biographical dictionary. Franco Serri, Conchita., Garcia, Richard A. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press. ISBN 058538908X. OCLC 49569798.
  3. ^ Burkett, Elinor (April 9, 1992). "Author focuses on Cuban nostalgia". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  4. ^ Johnson, Kelli Lyon (May 9, 2005). "Cristina Garcia – b. 1958". VG: Voices from the Gaps. Retrieved March 13, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c Abani, Chris “Cristina García” BOMB Magazine Spring 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2011


  • "About the Author" and "A Conversation with Cristina García" in The Agüero Sisters. Random House Publishing Group, 1998. ISBN 0-345-40651-6.
  • Alvarez-Borland, Isabel. Cuban-American literature of exile : from person to persona. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1998.
  • Caminero-Santangelo, Marta, University of Kansas. "Cristina Garcia". The Literary Encyclopedia. 17 May 2005. The Literary Dictionary Company. (retrieved 14 March 2007)
  • Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. On Latinidad: U.S. Latino literature and the construction of ethnicity. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007.
  • Cox, Annabel. “Cristina García's Dreaming in Cuban: Latina literature and beyond?” Latino Studies 7.3 (Fall 2009): 357-377.
  • Dalleo, Raphael. “How Cristina Garcia Lost Her Accent, and Other Latina Conversations.” Latino Studies 3.1 (April 2005): 3-18.
  • Dalleo, Raphael, and Elena Machado Sáez. "Latino/a Identity and Consumer Citizenship in Cristina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban." The Latino/a Canon and the Emergence of Post-Sixties Literature. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. 107-132.
  • Johnson, Kelli Lyon. "Cristina Garcia - b. 1958". VG: Voices from the Gaps. May 9, 2005. (retrieved March 13, 2007)
  • Kevane, Bridget. Latino literature in America. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2003.
  • Luis, William. Dance between two cultures: Latino Caribbean literature written in the United States. Nashville: Vanderbilt University article mentions Garcia's 2006 move to Napa, California] A Handbook to Luck May 16, 2007 (retrieved May 16, 2007)
  • Viera, Joseph M. "Exile among Exiles: Cristina Garcia." Poets and Writers. September/October, 1998.

Further reading[edit]

  • Davison, Ned J. (1971). Eduardo Barrios. Twayne Publishing[ISBN missing]

External links[edit]