UTSA professor’s book highlights Texas’ diverse communities

Garza, who was born in Galveston and raised in Uvalde, said her family was lucky in that their homes received minimal damage. But she remembered looking at the live oak trees around the island and thinking they looked strong, only to realize the leaves were all dead and that the trees had drowned in the storm.

It was an image she couldn’t get out of her head.

“I tend to start with a place as a writer,” Garza said. “I just sort of sit in a space and immerse myself in what we’re going to write and once I access the space, I can think of characters and then I can think of situations and conflict and it all sort of stems from there. And I had Galveston on the brain, so it just kind of flowed out.”

What began as a short story — the title chapter of an intended collection — ended up growing during Garza’s time in graduate school. Even as time passed, she still had Galveston on her mind and the project grew into The Last Karankawasher debut novel that published this past August.

Kimberly Garza’s short story grew into The Last Karankawas, her debut novel that was published this past August.

Courtesy of Kimberly Garza

The story follows Carly Castillo, a Galveston local whose grandmother claims their family is descended from the Karankawas, an indigenous people of Texas. The family has no proof of this connection other than the stories they share, but Carly imagines a life away from the island “undefined by her family’s history.”

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