USA Ford Fellow (Oakland, CA)
Born in Havana, Cuba, Achy Obejas has written fiction, poetry, and journalism. She is the author of five books, including three powerful novels: Days of Awe, Memory Mambo, and Ruins. Her poetry chapbook, This is What Happened in Our Other Life, was both a critical favorite and a best-seller. She is trained as a journalist and has worked in the alternative press, including In These Times, where she writes a monthly column, as well as the Chicago Tribune. As a Cuban-American, she writes about the struggle between public and private identities, the effects of power and powerlessness and finding the beating human heart of those we are taught to believe are enemies. In recent years, she has taken on complicated and challenging translation projects including the Spanish-language versions of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her. The rare translator who can work in and out of two languages, she has translated into English such contemporary Latin American writers as Rita Indiana, F. G. Haghenbeck and Wendy Guerra. She is the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellowship, a team Pulitzer Prize for the series “Gateway to Gridlock” while at the Tribune, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry, the Studs Terkel Journalism Award, and a Cintas Foundation Fellowship. She is currently the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Mills College in Oakland, California.