Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Erika L. Sanchez  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: in

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Illinois Connection

Sanchez was raised in Cicero, a suburb of Chicago. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently resides in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Erika L. Sanchez is a poet, novelist, and essayist. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her nonfiction has been published in Al Jazeera, Cosmopolitan,, the Guardian, NBC News, Rolling Stone, Salon, and elsewhere. She has received a CantoMundo Fellowship, a Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship to Madrid, Spain, and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. She is a 2017-2019 Princeton Arts Fellow.Sanchez was the sex and love advice columnist for Cosmopolitan for Latinas for three years, and her writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Salon, and the Paris Review.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Lessons on Expulsion: Poems
ISBN: 1555977782

Graywolf Press. 2017

An award-winning and hard-hitting new voice in contemporary American poetry.The first time I ever came the light was weak and carnivorous.Covered my eyes and the night cleared its dumb throat. Heard my mother wringing her hands the next morning. Of course I put my underwear on backwards, of course the elastic didn't work.What I wanted most at that moment was a sandwich.But I just nursed on this leather whip.I just splattered my sheets with my sadness.From “Poem of My Humiliations”.“What is life but a cross / over rotten water?” Poet, novelist, and essayist Erika L. Sánchez’s powerful debut poetry collection explores what it means to live on both sides of the border―the border between countries, languages, despair and possibility, and the living and the dead. Sánchez tells her own story as the daughter of undocumented Mexican immigrants and as part of a family steeped in faith, work, grief, and expectations. The poems confront sex, shame, race, and an America roiling with xenophobia, violence, and laws of suspicion and suppression. With candor and urgency, and with the unblinking eyes of a journalist, Sánchez roves from the individual life into the lives of sex workers, narco-traffickers, factory laborers, artists, and lovers. What emerges is a powerful, multifaceted portrait of survival. Lessons on Expulsion is the first book by a vibrant, essential new writer now breaking into the national literary landscape.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
ISBN: 1524700487

Knopf Books for Young Readers. 2017

National Book Award Finalist!
Instant New York Times Bestseller!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
meets Jane the Virgin in this poignant but often laugh-out-loud funny contemporary YA about losing a sister and finding yourself amid the pressures, expectations, and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican-American home.

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

Alive and crackling—a gritty tale wrapped in a page-turner. ”—The New York Times

Unique and fresh.” —Entertainment Weekly

“A standout.” —NPR


Lessons on Expulsion

  • Starred Review, Library Journal
  • I am not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

  • Bestseller, New York Times
  • Starred Review - School Library Journal
  • Starred Review, The Bulletin
  • Starred Review, Shelf Awareness
  • Finalist, National Book Award

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (No)