Cristina García Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Cristina García is a highly regarded Cuban American writer. Born in Havana, Cuba, she was brought to the United States at the age of two, when her family emigrated after Fidel Castro came to power. She grew up in New York City, studied in Catholic schools, and attended Barnard College, from where she went to the School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University. In 1993, after working for Time magazine as a journalist in Miami, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, García was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. She then moved to Los Angeles.

As a young adult García read American, Russian, and French novelists. Later she discovered her Latin American literary heritage. She cites Wallace Stevens, Gabriel García Márquez, and Toni Morrison as particular literary inspirations for her when writing her novels. Perhaps her greatest inspiration, however, was a trip back to Cuba in 1984, where she learned about her family and, as for so many bicultural writers, regained a sense of her own culture of origin and her part in it from the experience of “going home.”

As a bicultural Cuban American writer, García is part of a vibrant group of individuals of various ethnicities who draw on the contradictions of being simultaneously both and neither. Other American writers sharing this multiethnic common ground are Julia Alvarez, Gloria Anzaldúa, Sandra Cisneros, Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Diana Abu-Jaber, Oscar Hijuelos, Pablo Medina, and Omar Torres. They too write of the delicate balance, double consciousness, and multiple resonances of living...

(The entire section is 653 words.)


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Cristina García was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1958 and came to the United States with her parents, who left Cuba after Fidel Castro rose to power there. The family settled in New York City, where García received her schooling at the Dominican Academy. She graduated from Barnard College in 1979 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science. She did graduate work at Johns Hopkins University’s School of International Studies, intending to pursue a career in the Foreign Service. However, after receiving her degree in 1981, she switched her attention to journalism.

García held several different jobs at The New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Knoxville Journal before accepting a job with Time magazine in New York in 1983. She worked for Time as a researcher, as a reporter, and later as a correspondent in San Francisco, Miami, and Los Angeles. It was in Miami, while living amid the large expatriate Cuban community, that she first became interested in exploring her own family’s past.

In 1984, García visited Cuba for the first time since the time of her birth and met many of her relatives. The visit, she said in an interview, was like “finding a missing link.” The experience made her aware of the highly charged loyalties of those who believed in the cause of the revolution and the others who left the island nation with the dream of toppling the Castro regime.

In 1990, García left work as a journalist to become a full-time writer of fiction. The same year she married Scott Brown, and in 1992 they had a daughter, Pilarita García-Brown. The publication of Dreaming in Cuban brought García widespread acclaim and a nomination for the National Book Award. During 1992-1993, she was a visiting professor at Princeton University. She moved to Los Angeles and taught creative writing at the University of California (both Los Angeles and Santa Barbara) while working on her next novel.

García moved to Napa Valley in Northern California in 2006, and she also taught creative writing at Mills College in Oakland. For her next work, García chose to write about three characters from different ethnic groups whose lives run parallel, initially in their homelands and then as their lives cross paths through time.


Cristina Garcia is an American writer whose works have been compared to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his trademark style of magical realism. Along with Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, and Gloria Anzaldua, she is at the forefront of America's growing popular and critical interest in Latino/Latina literature. Her work has been translated into twelve different languages. She writes with lush lyricism and imagery, and has been praised as well as criticized for her ambiguous politics. Although she left Cuba when she was just two years old, her writing is sometimes considered an identification with a Latina "double consciousness," a term coined by W.E.B. Du Bois in 1897, written about the African-American struggle for identity. As illustrated by her characters, there is no absolute "type" of Cuban, Cuban-American, or Cuban exile. Thus, her characterizations are not intended to stereotypically politicize. Instead, they explore the complexities of individualism and identity in a postmodern way: colonialism, post-colonialism, feminism, geography, and other cultural ideologies all play a role.

Garcia was born in Havana on July 4, 1958, to a Guatemalan father and a Cuban mother. In 1961, when Castro came to power, her family moved to New York City, where they continued to speak Spanish in the privacy of their home. She received her bachelor's degree in Political Science from Barnard College in 1979 and earned a master's degree in International Relations from Johns Hopkins in 1981. After working for a short period in Europe, Garcia returned to the States and worked for the New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Knoxville Journal, and Time Magazine. She began writing fiction full time in 1990.

Garcia's first novel, Dreaming in Cuban, (1992) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Published in 1997, The Aguero Sisters won the Janet Heidiger Kafka Prize, an annual award for an American Woman writer of fiction. She also published Monkey Hunting (2003) and A Handbook to Luck (2007). She has edited two anthologies and also published two children's works: The Dog Who Loved the Moon and I Wanna Be Your Shoebox (both in 2008). The Lady Matador's Hotel, a novel, and The Lesser Tragedy of Death, a collection of poetry, will be published in 2010. Dreams of Significant Girls, also for young readers, is slated for a 2011 publication.

Among numerous other awards, Garcia has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writer's Award, and a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton. She is the artistic director for the Centrum Writers Exchange in Port Townsend, Washington, and she is a visiting creative writing professor at the University of Nevada (Las Vegas). Currently, Garcia lives in Santa Monica with her daughter, Pilar.


(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Cristina Garcia Published by Gale Cengage

The challenges and opportunities of exile are a subject that Garcia explores in The Agüero Sisters and one that has played...

(The entire section is 367 words.)