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Author Cristina Garcia gave the keynote speech for Hispanic Heritage Month on “Identity in the Age of Multiculturalism” Wednesday night in the Oechsle Hall auditorium.

The event was sponsored by the Presidential Diversity Speaker Series. A book signing followed the talk, which focused on assimilation into American society while retaining Latino roots and culture.

Garcia has been hailed as one of the most important Cuban American voices in literature. She has worked as a correspondent for Time magazine in San Francisco, Miami, and Los Angeles. Her first novel, Dreaming in Cuban, was nominated for a National Book Award and has been widely translated. García has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, and the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award.

Garcia has noted that Chinese Cubans have not been given their due despite significant contributions to the country. Her book Monkey Hunting is an attempt to correct some of that wrong.

Born in Havana and raised in New York City, Garcia received a B.A. with a major in political science from Barnard College and an M.A. in international relations from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Although she did not grow up as part of a Latino or Cuban community, Garcia grew up speaking Spanish at home and listening to family stories about Cuba, both of which gave her a strong sense of pride in her country of origin. She says that she sometimes has an uncomfortable relationship with Cubans, both on the island and in Miami because she has generally not engaged in anti-Castro activism.

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