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A space to encourage writing of Filipino American literature and the arts

 

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Philippine American Writers and Artists blog for lit/arts events, reviews, news, and opportunities.

Filtering by Tag: Donna Miscolta

Review: Donna Miscolta, When the De La Cruz Family Danced

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Via PLOP! When the De La Cruz Family Danced

Author:  Donna Miscolta Review:  Josie E. Davis Publisher: Signal 8 Press, June, 2011 eISBN: 978-988-19895-2-9 Pages: 342 Price: $16.35

When the De La Cruz Family Danced is a breathtaking portrayal of acceptance, longing, and loss – as one family learns forgiveness with each other and with the past. In thoughtful prose, debut novelist Donna Miscolta interlocks the smallest and most delicate stories and phrases with the upmost affection; she is attentive to dialogue as if composing a waltz, “I came to take you dancing, Tessie.” A seductive sound pulling the reader onto every page.

Set within a Filipino suburb of the California-Mexico border, the book opens with a month long journey to the Philippines in which Johnny de la Cruz finds himself face to face with the grown-up beauty queen of Little Manila, Bunny Piña. Nearly twenty years later, we encounter Bunny’s only son, Winston, on the doorstep of the de la Cruz home.

“On Monday afternoon, Winston arrived at the de la Cruz residence exactly on time … Even through the screen door, he recognized Tessie. She was dressed in white slacks and an aqua short-sleeved blouse that, though becoming, made Winston think of the synthetic color of the Beachcomber pool.”

Miscolta is as skilled in her writing as she is full of surprises. From gambling to the box step and Filipino beauty queens, When the De La Cruz Family Danced makes me laugh and cry when I least expect it. By the end of the book I am as much a part of the De La Cruz family as Johnny de la Cruz himself. It takes incredible tact and skill to bring together such a diverse array of characters and Miscolta does this with impeccable flair.

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Interview: Donna Miscolta at The Freelance and Fiction Blog

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From The Freelance and Fiction: Today's special guest author is Donna Miscolta. Her book is titled When the de la Cruz Family Danced.

Welcome to the blog, Donna! Could you tell us a little bit about your novel? Thanks, Rachel. The novel concerns the emotionally disconnected de la Cruzes, a Filipino-Mexican-American family living in one of the overlooked and unimposing little cities south of San Diego and north of Tijuana. It’s a place where Johnny de la Cruz, a reluctant immigrant, fulfilled his dream of owning a home. Now, sick with cancer and faced with the possibility of dying, he feels deeply the lack of a son. It is a lack that his wife has shared to some extent and which over the years has distanced them from their daughters. A young man, Winston Piña, whose mother has recently died and whose father had earlier abandoned him, enters the lives of the de la Cruz family. He brings polish and charm and a sense of accomplishment, perhaps completion, to the family whose relationships have long been fragile. The story explores a couple of questions: How does one deal with regrets as the end of life nears? Where and how do we belong in terms of family, community, and even the world?

What led you to write this novel? Long before I was ready to write a novel, I wrote a first chapter as an exercise for a writing class I was taking. I started the chapter as I waited for a flight from Seattle to San Diego to attend my father’s funeral. Though the novel isn’t about my father, losing him prompted questions about his life that I wanted to apply to a fictional character.

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Interview: Donna Miscolta at First Line Blog

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From First Line: Donna Miscolta's debut novel, When the de la Cruz Family Danced has just been released. Her short fiction has appeared in Calyx, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, New Millennium Writings, Connecticut Review and other journals. Her short story collection, Natalie Wood's Fake Puerto Rican Accent was a finalist for the 2010 Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. She has received literary awards from 4Culture, Artist Trust, the Bread Loaf/Rona Jaffe Foundation and Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. She's been an artist-in-residence at Anderson Center, Atlantic Center for the Arts and Hedgebrook, and was recently awarded an NEA-sponsored residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She grew up in National City, California and lives in Seattle, Washington.

Welcome to the First Line blog, Donna!

First Line (FL): Donna, I read that you did not start writing until you were almost forty. Were you always an avid reader, though?

Donna Miscolta (DM): Yes, I’ve always been a reader except for a phase in high school when I sort of zoned out in the lost days of my awkward adolescence. Even the comfort of a good book couldn’t rescue me from a sense of displacement and disorientation – of not fitting in and not knowing who I was and where I belonged. But even then, I considered books things of wonder and thought that the creation of one was reserved for the divinely ordained – which is the reason, I think, it took me so long to give writing a try.

FL: You have a great story about how your novel, When the de la Cruz Family Danced was discovered and eventually published. Would you mind retelling it for us?

DM: The discovery happened after my novel had been turned down by over thirty editors.

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