Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Achy Obejas  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1956 in Havana, Cuba

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Illinois Connection

Obejas moved to Chicago in 1979 and lived there for many years.

Biographical and Professional Information

Achy Obejas is a Cuban-American writer, translator, and activist whose work focusing on personal and national identity has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Fifth Wednesday Journal, TriQuarterly, Another Chicago Magazine and many other publications. She is the author of various books, including the award-winning novel Days of Awe and the best-selling poetry chapbook This Is What Happened in Our Other Life.

The editor of Akashic’s critically acclaimed crime-fiction anthology Havana Noir, she is also the author of Ruins, and the translator (into Spanish) for Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Currently, she is a writer/editor for Netflix. Born in Havana, she continues to spend extended time there but currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area.


Body of Work

Lambda Literary Award


Starred Review, Booklist

The Tower of Antilles

Finalist, Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Longlisted, PEN Open Book Award, 2018

Longlisted, PEN Story Prize, 2018

What to Read When You've Made it More Than Halfway Through 2017, Rumpus

Rigoberto Gonzalez's Favorite Book Selection, 2017

Electric Literature Best Short Story Collection Selection, 2017

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Selected Titles At Your Library

Boomerang :
ISBN: 0807033391. OCLC Number: 1245959740

. .

"A bilingual poetry collection from a Cuban-American writer-activist that explores themes of identity, sexuality, and belonging"--

Days of awe
ISBN: 9780345441546. OCLC Number: 50500359

Ballantine Books,. .

Alejandra San Jos©♭ was born in Havana, entering the world in the midst of the Cuban Revolution. Her parents fled to Chicago where they settled in a close community of Cuban refugees. As an adult, Ale becomes an interpreter, which takes her back to Cuba where she uncovers new truths about the relatives who converted to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition but who are actually Jews.

Memory mambo :
ISBN: 1573440175. OCLC Number: 34583947

Cleis Press,. .

A Cuban-American's quest to learn the truth about her family. Are the stories of their achievement in pre-revolutionary Cuba true, or are they exaggerations or, worse, inventions? A look at a problem frequently faced by children of immigrants.

Ruins /
ISBN: 1933354690. OCLC Number: 216936986

. .

"Usnavy has always been a true believer. When the Cuban Revolution triumphed in 1959, he was just a young man and eagerly signed on for all of its promises. But as the years have passed, the sacrifices have outweighed the glories and he's become increasingly isolated in his revolutionary zeal. His friends openly mock him, his wife dreams of owning a car totally outside their reach, and his beloved fourteen-year-old daughter haunts the coast of Havana, staring north. In the summer of 1994, a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government allows Cubans to leave at will and on anything that floats. More than 100,000 flee, including Usnavy's best friend. Things seem to brighten when he stumbles across what may or may not be a priceless Tiffany lamp that reveals a lost family secret and fuels his long repressed feelings ... But now Usnavy is faced with a choice between love for his family and the Revolution that has shaped his entire life."--Page 4 of cover.

The tower of the Antilles :
ISBN: 1617755397. OCLC Number: 959036979

. .

"The Cubans in Achy Obejas's story collection are haunted by islands: the island they fled, the island they've created, the island they were taken to or forced from, the island they long for, the island they return to, and the island that can never be home again"--

This is what happened in our other life
ISBN: 9780979420825. OCLC Number: 166380020

Midsummer Night's Press,. .

We came all the way from Cuba so you could dress like this? :
ISBN: 093941693X. OCLC Number: 30508217

Cleis Press,. .

"We came all the way from Cuba so you could dress like this? my father will ask over my mother's shoulder. And for the first time in my life, I'll say, Look, you didn't come for me, you came for you; you came because all your rich clients were leaving and you were going to wind up a cashier in your father's hardware store if you didn't leave, okay?" A collection of stories on uprooted people.