Texas Book Fest Q&A with Angie Cruz

Angie Cruz is the author of the novel Dominicana.

TBF: Why did you write your new book? What was your inspiration?

AC: This book is a valentine to my mother and all the unsung Dominicanas like her, who make big sacrifices to make a better life for their families. It was inspired by my mother’s story who like the character Ana was married off to a man twice her age. I wanted to write a book that shows the multiple challenges women face within an abusive relationship, as a new immigrant, and as a dreamer for a better life. In some ways what inspires me to write any story is the omission of stories like my mother’s in mainstream media. It’s a way to say, we are here. We/immigrants/women are here and we matter.

TBF: What’s the last book you read, loved, and can’t stop recommending? Why is it so good?

AC: I recently reread Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement aloud to a friend. I had read this experimental memoir years ago and loved it but reading it again made me realize how much I had missed because I was so caught up in the juicy celebrity bits. In addition to the exquisite language, what Clement does brilliantly is capture a moment in history–the NYC 80s art scene, with a focus on Basquiat yes, but told through Suzanne Mallouk who was his most steady lover during the prime of his career. This is why everyone called her his widow. For those who love Basquait’s art work, once you read this book, it’s impossible not to look at his paintings again with renewed interest. Clement gives us an intimate look at the how he made his work, the iconography in it too and the context and community that shaped it. This slim powerful book packs a load of dark material in a deceptively light way. It’s a book about trauma and inheritance and a portrait of a turbulent love story told without judgment. I gift this book to everyone.

TBF What’s the first book you remember reading? Who gave it to you?

AC: Honestly? The Encyclopedia. I am sure I read plenty of books beforehand in preschool but I remember vividly when a volume of the encyclopedia would arrive because I think she was paying it on a lay-a way plan. And of course I remember Volume 1.– A to America. I would read the tiny print and look at the illustrations of animals and maps for a long time. And we never had a complete set at once because all of our neighbors knew we had a set so they would borrow certain volumes to do their homework. The set on the shelf had a big presence in our living room for sure.

Angie Cruz is one of 300 authors who will appear at the 2019 Texas Book Festival which takes place October 26-27th 2019 in downtown Austin. The Festival is free and open to the public! Check out all of this year’s authors.