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Achy Obejas

Born: 1956 in Havana, Cuba
Pen Name: None

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

Biography: 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 Akashicís critically acclaimed crime-fiction anthology Havana Noir, she is also the author of Ruins, and the translator (into Spanish) for Junot Diazís 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
  • "Ruins"
  • -- 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

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction; Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

Boomerang :
ISBN: 0807033391 OCLC: 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: 50500359

Ballantine Books, New York : ©2002.

Alejandra San Jos©‚ô≠ 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: 34583947

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.

Ruins /
ISBN: 1933354690 OCLC: 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: 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: 166380020

Midsummer Night's Press, New York : 2007.

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

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.