Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jon Michaud

Jon Michaud's new novel is When Tito Loved Cara.

From his Q & A with author Caroline Leavitt:

What I loved so much about your book was that it wasn’t just a love story between people, but a love story about culture, family and community—which sometimes is a more star-crossed lover than a person. Could you care to comment on this?

Sometimes I think my whole life has been one long cross-cultural love story. My father was diplomat and we lived in a number of turbulent foreign places when I was a child: Iran, India, and Northern Ireland. I think that the recurring experience of not being a native-born member of the cultures in which I grew up made me especially aware of the conflicts that immigrants and exiles face within themselves and within their families and communities. Those insider/outsider conflicts can be seen in almost every neighborhood in New York City (witness the controversy over the Park51 Islamic community center)—and in plenty of neighborhoods around the country.

Many wonderful books, from Saul Bellow’s “The Adventures of Augie March” to Jhumpa Lahiri's “The Interpreter of Maladies,” have chronicled those conflicts, too. In my case, I had the good fortune to wind up living in northern Manhattan in the late 1990s and to marry into a vibrant Dominican-American family. The stories my wife and in-laws told me and the stories I heard around the neighborhood resonated with my own childhood experiences of being constantly out of place and fed into the novel that became “When Tito Loved Clara.”

Clara has assimilated into a new life, but when Tito comes back, things disrupt, making everyone question choices made or unmade. Do you think we can ever escape our past or our culture—and should we?

It’s always...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue