Cruz, Angie 1972–
Cruz, Angie 1972–
PERSONAL: Born February 24, 1972, in New York, NY. Education: Fashion Institute of Technology, A.D., 1994; State University of New York, Binghamton, B.A., 1997; New York University, M.F.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—New York, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer and activist. Formerly worked in retail; Women in Literature and Letters (WILL), New York, NY, co-founder, 1997–.
AWARDS, HONORS: New York Foundation of the Arts fellowship, 2000; Camargo Foundation fellowship, 2004; Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Award; Van Lier Literary fellowship, Bronx Writers' Center.
Soledad (novel), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Let It Rain Coffee (novel), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Latina, New York Newsday, New York Times, and Callaloo.
SIDELIGHTS: Dominican-American writer Angie Cruz was born and raised in the economically troubled Washington Heights area of New York City. She began her post-secondary education in the field of fashion design, until a fateful meeting with actor and comedian Bill Cosby, a customer at the retail store Cruz managed, led to an opportunity to write children's stories for Black Entertainment Television.
Cruz's ethnicity and Washington Heights upbringing heavily influenced the plots of her books Soledad and Let It Rain Coffee. Both novels trace the intricate lives of Dominican families who have immigrated to the Washington Heights area. In an interview with Calabash contributor Silvio Torres-Saillant, Cruz described her attraction to the inner-city neighborhood to which she ultimately returned to live and work: "Yes, there was a very violent time in Washington Heights. But there is also very much of the immigrant intensity of just believing in the dream, and the informal work structure, and the community buildings that make it feel like another world that you don't really experience anywhere else in New York City."
In Soledad, the title character is a young Dominican-American art student who has fled her Washington Heights family for sophisticated downtown Manhattan; she is forced to face her family's complexities and her own Dominicana identity when her widowed mother becomes mentally ill. Trent Masiki, writing for Black Issues Book Review, described the book as "an intriguing read and welcomed first effort." Library Journal contributor Heath Madom commented that Soledad "adeptly transcends all the tired and hackneyed classifications of what is now commonly known as the 'immigrant experience," and dubbed the book "a promising debut from an author to keep an eye on." Boston Globe correspondent Katori Hall wrote that Cruz "crafts a novel poignant and powerful in its sometimes disturbing plot and well-crafted characters…. The characters and their stories create a surreal reading experience tempered by the fine lines created between dream and reality."
Let It Rain Coffee follows the lives of another multigenerational Dominican family whose members immigrate to New York, led by an unrealistic pursuit of the "American dream." As a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote, "Cruz handles this sad tale with dignity devoid of melodrama. She demonstrates enormous affection for her characters without sentimentalizing their naivete or ignorance." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "Cruz's unvarnished, sympathetic account of immigrant struggles suggests she is a writer worth watching," while Library Journal reviewer Andrea Kempf remarked, "Cruz displays an uncommon prowess in handling parallel narratives, seamlessly moving the story back and forth in time and place."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, September, 2001, Trent Masiki, review of Soledad, p. 13.
Boston Globe, September 7, 2001, Katori Hall, "Soledad Portrays Struggles of Dominican Immigrants," p. C13.
Calabash, summer-fall, 2003, Silvio Torres-Saillant, "Writing Has to Be Generous: An Interview with Angie Cruz," p. 108.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of Let It Rain Coffee, p. 245.
Library Journal, July, 2001, Heath Madon, review of Soledad, p. 121; May 1, 2005, Andrea Kempf, review of Let It Rain Coffee, p. 70.
Publishers Weekly, March 7, 2005, review of Let It Rain Coffee, p. 48.
Angie Cruz Home Page, http://www.angiecruz.com (June 12, 2005).