By Gloria Petit
Local author Nan Cuba captivated an audience of students and faculty by sharing her passion for literary fiction during a Nov. 20 book reading and talk at Palo Alto College.
As a way to inspire students pursuing careers in writing, the library staff at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and Palo Alto invited Cuba as part of the Working Writers Series events.
During her reading, two people flipped through pages of their copies of Cuba’s newest novel, “Body and Bread,” while others in the audience listened intently to Cuba.
Published by Engine Books last year, “Body and Bread” has won accomplished awards, such as the Pen/Southwest Book Award for Fiction and the Texas Institute of Letters Steven Turner Award for Best Work of Fiction.
“The book is about grief and redemption,” Cuba said. “The novel is set up through the character of Sarah, which switches back and forth between the present time of her life and flashbacks from her past life.”
Sarah is portrayed as a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and holds a career in cultural anthropology. Throughout the novel, Sarah unveils family history and secrets. Specifically, she is confronted with the suicide of her younger brother and is left to learn how to deal with grief.
Cuba addressed her personal experiences in writing the novel by relating herself to Sarah.
“As I was writing the novel, I began to realize that I was writing about my own experience,” she said, adding the news of her brother committing suicide at a young age. “In the novel, Sarah discovers that suicide can’t be explained, which is also what I had learned.”
Aside from reading her novel, Cuba also discussed the importance of having strong reading and writing communities.
“It encourages people to tell their stories” Cuba said. “It especially encourages people on this side of town to share their stories with others.”
The teams of people at both A&M-San Antonio and Palo Alto hope the Working Writers Series will encourage students to tell those stories.
The Working Writers Series is an event that showcases local authors who have experience in writing all forms of literature and are willing to share their tips with new writers.
Stefanie Wittenbach, librarian at A&M-San Antonio, said the university and Palo Alto’s library will continue to provide events, such as book readings, on both campuses.
The events will give the South Side community a chance to experience diversity, Tina Mesa, dean of learning resources at Palo Alto, said.
“We want to bring authors that are relatable to the student community,” she said. “It benefits them because it brings variety to the students.”