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Gabriela Garcia Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Of Women and Salt (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Gabriela Garcia is a contemporary fiction author best known for her debut novel “Of Women and Salt.” Her poems and fiction works have been featured in “Black Warrior Review,” “Best American Poetry,” The Cincinnati Review,” “Tin House,” “Michigan Quarterly Review,” “Zyzzyva” and “Iowa Review.” As an aspiring author, she has had fellowships and residencies from the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, Breadloaf, the Keller Estate, Lighthouse Works, Sarabande Books, a Steinbeck Fellowship and a Writer’s Award from the Rona Jaffe Foundation. She went to Fordham University from where she got her bachelor’s in Sociology before proceeding to Purdue University for her MFA in fiction. It is at Purdue where she also became a professor of creative writing for a while. Garcia was born to Mexican and Cuban immigrants and grew up in Miami though she currently makes her home in the Bay Area. She is a long time migrant justice organizer and a long time feminist that has also worked in magazines and music.

Garcia has been writing for as long as she can remember and before she knew how to write she used to tell her stories to her mother. Nonetheless, she did not take her writing career seriously until she decided to get into an MFA program after working on political organizing, media and music. At this time, she had been writing poetry and fiction as a hobby and never thought she would ever publish. Still, once she got into college to learn about creative fiction she started writing little snippets here and there. These are what would later evolve into her debut novel that was published once she graduated. At Purdue she studied under Roxane Purdue who was an incredible source of mentorship and encouragement on her journey. She loved that she got to work with a Caribbean-American author that had a good understanding of her project on many different levels. It was Roxan that pushed her as a person and author and modeled her to be the mode literary citizens he is today.

As the daughter of Mexican and Cuban immigrants, her family experiences and background has a lot of influence on her characters and plots. Gabriel Garcia tapped into her experience as a first generation immigrant that had to navigate between the different worlds. She grew up traveling to Mexico and Cuba a lot and she knew evertyhing about what it is to be a privileged foreigner yet be connected to a place. It is from this that she drew a lot of inspiration for the several chapters that are set in Cuba and Mexico. One of her impulses in crafting her novel had to do with her parents immigrant experiences and how this showed her the many cracks in the Latin community in Miami. Contrary to public opinion, the Latino community does not have a singular identify and depending on class and race, the immigrant experience may vary significantly. Garcia’s mother came from Cuba during a period when Cubans received automatic citizenship upon arrival and were received with open arms. Her father was a Mexican immigrant that never got his citizenship until Gabriel was well into her twenties. He was often subjected to a lot of racism and xenophobia from Latino citizens. She grew up with knowledge of how the label was used to hide inequalities, erase indigenous and black people. It also allowed white Latinos to avoid any issues to do with colorism and white supremacy in their ranks. As such, she wanted to write about Latino Miami and how the people in her community had a range of immigrant experiences.

Gabriel Garcia was prompted to pen a novel and especially one that told of the immigrant experience of women since she always wanted to experiment with style and structure. She needed to make an exploration of the varied threats of the immigrant experience including intimate violence, addiction, state violence, migration, Cuba, Miami, matriarchal lineages and how these work together. It would take her about five years from ideation to publishing. However, it has to be noted that she had began writing small snippets of her work while she was still undertaking her MFA. It was these snippets that would be the core of what she would later write into “Of Women and Salt” her debut novel. The biggest surprise she had while writing her novel was how many times she had to read her own novel. Between proofreading passages and rounds of revisions she read her work more than a dozen times. She hopes that through her work readers will come to an understanding of women from different perspectives. She writes strong and sometimes weak characters that are flawed. Still these characters work against what has been imposed on them including the trope of the suffering or sacrificing immigrant mother.

“Of Women and Salt” by Gabriel Garcia tells the stories of two Salvadorian immigrants and Cuban women immigrants that have been living in the US for five generations. The author tells his story in vignettes as he moves from the ancient cigar factories in Cuba of the 19th century to the modern day Miami and the Texan detention centers. The lead is Maria Isabel the matriarch of the family who lives in Camaguey in 1866, where she was the cigar factory’s only female employee. Jeanette her great-great granddaughter ties everything together and has a strong case for being lead protagonist. She enters the story as a twenty something girl from Miami then struggling to cope with a toxic relationship and drug addiction. Carmen her mother has always been trying to get her back on the path but so far her efforts have proved futile. At a little more than 200 pages, it a short work that explores themes of mother –daughter relationships, immigration, sexual abuse and addiction across generations and families. Garcia writes characters with varied personalities, convictions, and characters from the resilient to the strong willed. Some make decisions that may not be best for their children but above all they are humans first and mother second.

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