Cristina Garcia on Chronicling Cuba’s Complex History Through Fiction

Cristina Garcia on Chronicling Cuba’s Complex History Through Fiction

Cristina Garcia's revelatory first , Dreaming in Cuban , a finalist for the 1992 National Book award, revolved around the del Pino family, its matriarch Celia, her children and grandchildren as they negotiate disagreements, dislocations, and reconnections in the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution. With Vanishing Maps , her eighth novel, Garcia revisits the del Pino family twenty years later. Her scope has expanded to cover Miami, Los Angeles, Moscow, Prague, and Berlin, in addition to Cuba and New York, as family members reunite and reminisce. Time passing means shifts in perspective—regrets, painful memories, renewed love connections—all of which Garcia manages with great grace and wit. What drew her back to this cast of characters? I asked the /playwright. “My interest was ignited when I began adapting Dreaming in Cuban for the stage, at the behest of a young New York City director/producer named Adrian Alea,” she explains. “After a quarter-century, I reread the novel several times and, you might say, I got reacquainted with my own characters. Then I had the good fortune of having a talented group of actors literally bring these characters to life before my eyes. Their interpretations amplified my own understandings of the del Pino family. Central Works Theater Company in Berkeley did a lovely production of Dreaming in Cuban just last summer, directed by Gary Graves.” I was enchanted by the transformation from novel to play when I attended a performance of Dreaming in Cuban one Sunday evening in July 2022 in a carefully distanced, masked small theater in Berkeley. Garcia distills the stories of three generations of women divided by La Revelución into a potent, at times poignant dreamscape. Scenes with matriarch Celia del Pino, a stern and unflinching revolutionary, and her daughter Lourdes, an anti-communist exile who runs the “Yankee Doodle Bakery” in Brooklyn, are particularly powerful in delineating the and heartbreak within this divided family. The ghost of Celia's late husband Jorge appears from time to time, as if making amends. Celia teaches her eleven-year-old grandson Ivanito Russian and makes plans for his education in Moscow while his mother […]

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