Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Achy Obejas  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1956 in Havana, Cuba

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Illinois Connection

Obejas moved to Chicago in 1979 and lived there for approximately 30 years.

Biographical and Professional Information

Achy Obejas is a Cuban-American writer and journalist. After leaving Cuba at the age of six, she lived in Michigan City, Indiana until she moved to Chicago in 1979. She has been a journalist with the ''Chicago Tribune'', writing about arts and culture. She has also been the Springer Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Chicago, as well as an advisor for the online prose magazine, ''Otium''. Obejas is the author of various books, including the award-winning novel ''Days of Awe'' and the best-selling ''This is What Happened in Our Other Life''. She is the editor of Akashic's critically acclaimed crime-fiction anthology ''Havana Noir'' and the translator (into Spanish) for Junot Diaz's ''The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao''. She is a founding member of the Creative Writing Faculty at the University of Chicago, a member of the Editorial Board of ''In These Times'', the editorial advisory board of the Great Books Foundation, and a blogger for Currently, she is the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Mills College in Oakland, CA, where she also lives.

Published Works

  • We Came All The Way From Cuba So You Could Dress Like This, Cleis, 1994
  • Memory Mambo: A Novel, Cleis, 1996
  • Days of Awe, Ballantine Books, 2001
  • This Is What Happened in Our Other Life, A Midsummer Night's Press, 2007
  • Ruins, Akaschic Books, 2009

Selected Titles At Your Library

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

Cleis Press,. Pittsburgh :. ©1994.

"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.

Memory mambo :
ISBN: 1573440175. OCLC Number:

Cleis Press,. Pittsburgh, Penn. :. ©1996.

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.

Days of awe /
ISBN: 0345441540. OCLC Number:

Ballantine Books,. New York :. ©2002.

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.

This is what happened in our other life /
ISBN: 0979420822. OCLC Number:

Midsummer Night's Press,. New York :. 2007.

Ruins /
ISBN: 1933354690. OCLC Number:

. .

"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.


Body of Work

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)