Writer Nan Cuba will read one of her works and advise students

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Nan Cuba, author of “Body and Bread,” will host a reading and book signing 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday in the Student Center Annex at Palo Alto College.  Courtesy

Nan Cuba, author of “Body and Bread,” will host a reading and book signing 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday in the Student Center Annex at Palo Alto College. Courtesy

The presentation will include refreshments and a book signing.

By Ana Victoria Cano

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

A local author will discuss writing and read from her novel, which explores the grief of losing a loved one to suicide, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday in the Student Center Annex at Palo Alto College.

Nan Cuba, author of “Body and Bread,” published in May 2013, said the novel was loosely inspired by her own brother’s suicide.

The book won a pen/Southwest Award in Fiction and the Texas Institute of Letters Steven Turner Award for best work.

Cuba will read for the first hour and tell students about her path to becoming a writer. She will sign books from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Cuba, a writer-in-residence at Our Lady of the Lake University, said she wants to share advice with students who hope to become writers.

“My hope is that I can offer encouragement, inspiration and specific suggestions for students about how to accomplish that,” Cuba said.

Cuba said the main character of the book is Sarah Pelton, an anthropologist. Pelton uses her professional skills to explore her childhood and family to find out why her brother, Sam Pelton, killed himself.

“Sam is loosely based on my memory of my brother Paul, but he’s a made-up character,” Cuba said. “Paul was an inspiration for Sam, but Paul is not Sam. The same is true for Sarah’s family. I am not Sarah, and Sarah’s family is not my family, but there are some qualities and traits that are parts of their make-up.”

Cuba described how she began writing “Body and Bread.”

“The novel began as a collection of stories that were loosely based on my hometown and family,” she said. “Once I realized that I was actually trying to understand how and why my brother, Paul, committed suicide, I expanded the stories into my novel about a woman dealing with that same kind of grief.”

Cuba said much of her fiction is autobiographical. She uses personal experiences to generate stories with characters who are composites of people she has met, combined with traits and plots she invents.

“I’m interested in … serious topics about the human experience,” Cuba said. “I am, of course, honored to be a part of this series. Years ago, I taught a fiction workshop at Palo Alto for two semesters, and I was assistant editor of the Palo Alto Review, working with the incredible (English professor) Ellen Shull.

“This feels a little like I’m returning home. I’m eager to visit with some of my former colleagues, and meeting with students is what I enjoy most. I expect to come away feeling inspired by them.”

Cuba received a Master of Fine Arts from the program for writers at Warren Wilson College.

For more information, call 210-458-6848

 

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