Turning to her mother's immigration story for inspiration for her latest novel, Angie Cruz has created a tender-hearted and inspiring character in Ana, the fifteen-year-old narrator of Dominicana. In 1965, when Ana is fifteen, her poor parents in rural Dominican Republic push her into marrying Juan Ruiz, an older man with ambitions. A contract is understood: in exchange for Ana, Juan will develop her parents' land and help the rest of her family immigrate to America. In an instant, teenage Ana is whisked off to a tiny apartment in New York City. She doesn't speak English and doesn't know a single person aside from Juan, who is controlling, abusive, frequently absent, and probably having an affair. In another author's hands, Juan could become a caricature, purely monstrous. But Cruz has created a fully realized human––an unlikable human, yet one whose deep flaws can be understood. His moods are realistically volatile, which makes him all the more terrifying to Ana. When she becomes pregnant, the walls close even more tightly around her. It's only when Juan is trapped in the DR during a military coup that Ana has the freedom to begin forging a life for herself. She explores her Washington Heights neighborhood and takes English lessons at the church across the street. But she also falls in love with Juan's kid brother, Cesar, who is watching over Ana while Juan is away. Throughout the novel, her already complicated life becomes more and more complicated. Cruz is a superb writer on every level: plot, character, backstory, setting, mood, psychology. You will find yourself utterly immersed in the wonderful Dominicana.— Michael
September 2019 Indie Next List
“Angie Cruz is a beautiful writer with a powerful voice, and readers of Julia Alvarez and Sandra Cisneros will greatly enjoy this book! Dominicana is a riveting story about family, womanhood, and what it means to be an immigrant. Ana Cancion, who’s only 15, leaves her home behind for a new life in New York City with her soon-to-be husband, Juan Ruiz. Big lights, tall buildings, and a bright future constitute the promise of a new beginning. However, upon Ana’s arrival, her fate untangles into something unexpected. It’ll be really hard to forget these characters and the realness in their heartache. Throughout these pages, I fell in and out of love, I laughed, I cried, and I was deeply moved.”
— Cristina Lebron, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL
Summer 2020 Reading Group Indie Next List
“Dominicana hinges on the promise of new beginnings built on generations of sacrifice and dreams. There is a path to a better life, but no manual. Alone with a husband she doesn’t know, Ana carves a space for herself in Washington Heights, learning almost everything from scratch. An ode to women everywhere whose birthright is not only survival but joy.”
— Amanda Ibarra, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
Una extraordinaria novela de iniciación sobre una mujer joven que encuentra su voz en el mundo ahora en una edición en Español. / An extraordinary coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world, now in a Spanish language edition.
El último día de 1964, la quinceañera Ana Canción se casa con Juan Ruiz, un hombre veinte años mayor que ella, en el campo dominicano. Al día siguiente se vuelve Ana Ruiz, una esposa confinada a un apartamento de un cuarto en Washington Heights. Juan la engaña, abusa y controla, hasta le prohíbe aprender inglés. Después de un intento fallido de fuga, Ana se entera de que está embarazada. Su madre y su esposo comparan su embarazo a ganar la lotería, su niña tendrá ciudadanía estadounidense. Juan vuelve a la República Dominicana cuando la guerra civil comienza, dejando a César, su hermano, cuidando a Ana. Durante ese descanso del confinamiento ella se enamora genuinamente, lo cual despierta su voluntad de pelear por independizarse de su abusador y por su derecho de permanecer en su patria adoptiva. Un retrato atemporal de feminidad y ciudadanía, que sigue vigente en esta época de migración forzada.
On the last day of 1964, fifteen-year-old Ana Canción marries Juan Ruiz, a man twice her age, in the Dominican countryside. The following day she becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a one-bedroom in Washington Heights. Juan is unfaithful, abusive, and controlling, he even forbids her from learning English. After a failed escape, Ana learns she is pregnant. Both her mother and husband compare her pregnancy to winning the lottery, her child will have American citizenship. Juan returns briefly to the Dominican Republic when the civil war begins, leaving César, his brother, to care for Ana. During that respite from confinement she experiences true love, which awakens her will to fight for independence from her abuser and for the right to stay in her adopted homeland. A timeless portrait of womanhood and citizenship, which rings true in this era of forced migration.
About the Author
ANGIE CRUZ is the author of the novels Soledad and Let It Rain Coffee, a finalist in 2007 for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. She has published short fiction and essays in magazines and journals, including The New York Times, VQR, and Gulf Coast Literary Journal. She has received numerous grants and residencies including the New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship, Yaddo, and The Macdowell Colony. She is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Aster(ix), a literary and arts journal. Cruz is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. Dominicana was inspired by her mother's story. Translator KIANNY N. ANTIGUA is a fiction writer, poet and translator. She is Senior Lecturer of Spanish at Dartmouth College. Antigua has published fourteen children's books, four short story collections, two poetry collections, two microfiction collections, two anthologies, a novel, and a journal. She has won sixteen literary awards and lives in Hanover, NH.