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My America: Pablo Cartaya

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Bestselling author and actor PABLO CARTAYA discusses what it’s like writing as a Cuban-American and his newest book, Each Tiny Spark, a deeply moving middle grade novel about a daughter and father finding their way back to each other.

In conjunction with AWM’s special exhibit My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today, we present a series of conversations with leading contemporary writers about their latest work and their thoughts on themes of identity, home, belonging and the meaning of what it is to be American.

About Each Tiny Spark:

Emilia Torres has a wandering mind. It’s hard for her to follow along at school, and sometimes she forgets to do what her mom or abuela asks. But she remembers what matters: a time when her family was whole and home made sense. Emilia expects that her life will get back to normal when Dad returns from deployment. Instead, it unravels. Dad shuts himself in the garage to work on an old car. Emilia peeks in on him daily, mesmerized by the sparks flying from his welder. One day, Dad calls Emilia over to take a closer look. Then, he teaches her how to weld. And over time, flickers of her old dad reappear. But as Emilia finds a way to repair the relationship with her father at home, her community ruptures with some of her classmates, like her best friend, Gus, at the center of the conflict. Each Tiny Spark is a tender story about asking big questions and being brave enough to reckon with the answers.

PABLO CARTAYA is an award-winning author whose books include the critically acclaimed middle grade novels The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora (a 2018 Pura Belpre Honor Book) and Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish. His next novel, Each Tiny Spark will debut on the new Kokila Penguin/Random House Imprint, which focuses on publishing diverse books for children and young adults. Pablo has acted on stage and television (notably co-starring on NBC’s “Will & Grace”) and frequently gives talks around the country on writing, reading, and multilingualism. He holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and currently serves as faculty at Sierra Nevada College’s MFA in Writing.

Awards and Honors include: American Library Association’s Pura Belpré Honor, Audie Award Finalist for Middle Grade Audiobook of the Year (for narration and title), Cybils Award Finalist, Texas Lone Star Reading List, Publisher’s Weekly Flying Start, and the 2018 Thurber House Writer-in-Residence.

My America: Pablo Cartaya

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