Review

In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd

by Ana Menendez



Ana Menéndez is a real find, a young writer who is gifted in
talent years beyond her age. Her collection of short stories, IN
CUBA I WAS A GERMAN SHEPHERD, is filled with profoundly moving
portraits of men and women, in Havana and in the U. S., who have to
come to grips with the realities of Castro's Cuba and the
consequences of trying to maintain their traditions while living in
a new world. By concentrating on individuals, young and old, those
with memories of the old world and those without, Menéndez
draws us into lives that exude so much emotion that we feel as if
we know these people ourselves.

The title story was included in BEST NEW AMERICAN VOICES 2000 and
won her a Pushcart Prize, the prestigious award that goes to short
story writers. Menéndez exhibits an extremely sharp ability to
find the exact moments, the right situations, to truly illuminate a
character's inner struggles, inner beauty, inner demons. Perhaps it
was her time as a journalist in Miami that helped her hone her
simple but intense writing style --- nary is an unnecessary phrase
or word used. The rhythms of her work can only be called distinctly
human, as in the banter between the four elderly men playing
dominoes in IN CUBA. It is sometimes rather painful to read some of
these stories, so deep into her creations' hearts does
Menéndez go.

The culture shock that her characters experience is nothing new to
Menéndez --- her parents came to Los Angeles from Cuba in the
early '60s. As with most stories about immigrant families, the
dividing line drawn between the old world and the new causes
endless suffering for the adventurous ones who tried to find a
place to fit in in the world beyond their birth shores. IN CUBA I
WAS A GERMAN SHEPHERD rounds up all the pain these men and women
feel and pass on to the subsequent generations and makes it into
the highest form of art. A stunning debut.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 22, 2011

In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd
by Ana Menendez

  • Publication Date: May 10, 2001
  • Genres: Short Stories
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press
  • ISBN-10: 0802116884
  • ISBN-13: 9780802116888