Cristina Garcia, renowned for her literary masterpiece Dreaming in Cuban, unveils her latest narrative tapestry, Vanishing Maps, ahead of her participation at the 2023 Miami Book Fair. In this multi-generational saga, the Latina author walks readers across Cuba, the U.S., Germany, and Russia, where the del Pino family grapples with the conundrum of transnational identities amidst historical turbulence.
Garcia’s canvas spans diverse landscapes and tumultuous histories, mirroring the evolving lives of her characters. “The maps they once relied upon — both internal and external — have changed to almost unrecognizable degrees,” she shares in an exclusive interview with BELatina News. Each character, scattered across continents, undergoes a metamorphosis as they confront the complexities of a swiftly transforming world.
The author’s choice of settings isn’t incidental; it’s pivotal to unraveling the impact of history on her characters. Garcia explains, “Each in their own way is profoundly affected by the radically changing world around them.” It’s a narrative thread that threads together the lives of the del Pino family, a tapestry woven with threads of language, culture, and border crossings.
Against the backdrop of transnational identities and familial strains, Garcia delves deep into the characters’ struggles to reconcile heritage with their new environments. Vanishing Maps paints a vivid picture of the diasporic journeys — from Moscow to Miami, Los Angeles to Berlin — over two decades, offering an unexpected, even comedic, exploration of their ongoing struggles.
“I tried to tackle the new realities of a growing and far-flung Cuban diaspora,” Garcia notes. Her characters are meticulously paired with seismic historical events: the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the persistence of the Cuban Revolution. It’s a tapestry where the personal and political are inextricably intertwined.
As Always, Cristina Garcia Is Intentional with Her Themes
The novel crescendos in a Berlin reunion, a significant moment that underscores the ties of family history. “Their desperate choices and attempted escapes from their pasts fundamentally shape the essence of my novels,” Garcia asserts, highlighting the inescapable pull of ancestry.
Garcia’s narrative also ventures into the realms of lost love and reconnection, resonating deeply with her characters. “Lost love and reconnection are the underpinnings of all my characters, what makes them tick, dead or alive,” she observes, hinting at the emotional complexities woven into the storyline.
Employing time as a storytelling tool, Garcia orchestrates a year-long temporal structure that expertly captures pivotal moments in her characters’ lives. ” By focusing the time frame of Vanishing Maps to one year, I was able to selectively highlight the passage of time while concentrating the bulk of my attention on the here and now,” she explains, describing her approach.
Ultimately, Garcia invites readers to contemplate the enduring influence of Cuban roots on one’s sense of belonging. “Cuba continues to receive a disproportionate share of the world’s attention. And so do its people (and, hopefully, my fictitious characters!),” she muses, emphasizing Cuba’s role as a historical crossroads that shapes identities and narratives.
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