Go to New York State Writers Institute
Ana Menendez, NYS Writers Institute, 11/12/02
Ana Menéndez
November 12, 2002
4:15 p.m. Informal Seminar
8:00 p.m. Reading
Both Assembly Hall, CC
(photo credit: Judy Axenson)

In Cuba I was a German Shepherd

Journalist-turned-fiction writer Ana Menéndez is the author of the debut collection of stories, In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd (2001). Sweet, bitter, magical and true-to-life the collection chronicles the struggles of Cuban-Americans to make a living, maintain dignity, preserve identity, cope with new surroundings, and find humor in modern Miami. The title story received the Pushcart Prize. In addition to being published in the Pushcart Prize anthology, the story was featured in Francis Ford Coppola's short story magazine, Zoetrope, and in Best New American Voices 2000, a collection of the best fiction by graduate students in writing workshops throughout the United States.

". . .wonderful gallery of idiosyncratic characters whose lives overlap to create a sense of shared history, shared losses." ". . .a bright debut that points to even brighter accomplishments to come." - Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

". . .has the nerve and scope of a natural storyteller. . .She probes with steady humor and astute political insight the dreams versus the realities of her characters." - Elle Magazine

Ana Menéndez graduated recently from the creative writing program at NYU where she was a "New York Times Fellow." Prior to turning to fiction, Menéndez spent six years as a journalist, first at The Miami Herald, for which she covered the Miami neighborhood of Little Havana, then at The Orange County Register in California. Menéndez has spent a fair portion of the last several years in India where her husband, Dexter Filkins, where he was the South Asia Bureau Chief for the L.A. Times from 1997-2000. Currently he is the Istanbul Bureau Chief at the New York Times. Paradoxically, many of her stories about Cuban exiles were conceived in India. "It was there that I was really able to understand the universality of loss," she told Bookreporter.com.

Born in the U.S., Menéndez grew up in an expatriate family that expected to return to Cuba at any moment. Her father encouraged Ana and her sister to memorize poems by Cuban nationalist poet José Marti. Her mother, born in Cuba of Spanish and Lebanese background, readied her girls with lessons in Spanish grammar. Menéndez spoke Spanish exclusively until she was sent to American Catholic schools. Menéndez has visited Cuba only twice; in 1997, as a reporter for the Orange County Register and most recently in January 2002.

Menéndez credits poetry with teaching her to write prose. In addition to being thoroughly immersed in the poetry of José Marti from an early age, Ana was introduced to a wide variety of American and Cuban poets by her uncle, the eminent Cuban-American poet Dionisio Martinez.

Ana Menéndez's next work of fiction will be a novel set in Miami post-revolutionary Cuba.

Writers Online Magazine Article
Zoetrope Magazine Article