Ana Menendez, renowned for her literary mastery in “In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd,” opens the door to a compelling new narrative in her latest novel, The Apartment. Ahead of her feature at this year’s Miami Book Fair, Ana shared her insights with BELatina, offering a glimpse into the nuanced world within her newest literary creation.
The Apartment unfolds within the walls of apartment 2B at The Helena, an art deco building that has silently observed seven decades of South Miami Beach’s ever-evolving landscape. Within its confines reside an ensemble cast of characters, each with their distinct struggles, aspirations, and stories that intricately weave through the fabric of the narrative.
In an exclusive conversation with BELatina, the Latina author shed light on the creative process behind her diverse cast of characters. ” If you live long enough and observe long enough, you come to see that our lives are made up of our interactions with others.,” she remarked. “Each character came into existence under the same circumstances, and in writing them, I aimed to capture the essence of community.”
The setting of The Helena shapes the lives of its residents. Ana explains, “Home acquires many layers of meaning: there is the home we fled, the home we build, and the home we idealize – among many others. It was important to me to make “home” a central character in these lives, much as “home” remains a central character – even an out-size character — in the lives of immigrants.
The Human Element Behind ‘The Apartment’
Themes of exile, homesickness, and displacement, deeply personal to Ana, resonate throughout The Apartment. ” My family are immigrants three generations deep. In a way, we have always been on the move,” Ana revealed. “That search for “home” defined my childhood and (by choice) much of my adulthood as well. It is one of the central themes of everything I write.”
Reflecting on human connections, Ana highlighted, “I structure stories based on the ebb and flow of connection and disconnection. So, I wanted to explore that idea in the context of a community, and to give myself the constraint of a single apartment in which to investigate it.”
When asked about the message behind The Apartment, Ana Menendez emphasized, “I don’t write to leave readers with a message. My novels all start with a question. I trust readers to bring their own questions and understanding.”
The Apartment, Ana’s latest literary feat, explores the power of community, survival through storytelling, and the complex connections that bind us together in the ever-evolving landscape of life.
Make sure you add The Apartment by Ana Menendez to your reading list.