Achy Obejas

Cuban-American writer Achy Obejas came with her family to the United States when she was six. She lived in Chicago for more than two decades, and the city figures prominently in her journalistic and fictional writing. Throughout her career, Obejas has worked for many different publications, including The Chicago Tribune, Windy City Times, The Advocate, Vanity Fair, Ms, and the Washington Post. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize, the Studs Terkel Prize, two Lambda Literary Awards, and on the long list for the 2018 PEN America Book Award, Obejas has delved into a wide range of topics in her writing, such as migration and immigration, cryptojudaism, queer life in the United States, and family relations. Her novels, short stories, journalism, and translations have made her one of the most accomplished writers in the United States today. From her debut collection We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This? to her most recent work, The Tower of the Antilles, Obejas has made her mark as one of the best contemporary Latinx writers and her work is frequently taught in college courses. A gifted translator, Obejas produced Spanish versions of Junot Diaz’s acclaimed The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her as well as an English version of Todos se van by the prolific Cuban writer Wendy Guerra and The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo by F.G. Hagenbeck. In 2016, Mills College debuted its Low Residency MFA in Translation, which Obejas co-founded. She has been a visiting distinguished writer in residence there, as well as at many other colleges and universities.



Roundtable Participants

Rosemary G. Feal is MLA Executive Director Emerita and Professor Emerita of Spanish at the State University of New York, Buffalo. She is the Wilbur Marvin Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. She has published and edited books on Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa, and José Donoso. Feal is co-editor of the SUNY Series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture.


Sara E. Cooper is Professor of Spanish and Director of Multicultural and Gender Studies at California State University, Chico. Cooper is the translator of Burnt Honey/Miel quemada, a novel by Chicano Antonio Arreguín Bermúdez and The Bleeding Wound/Sangra por la herida by Mirta Yáñez, as well as co-translator of Yáñez’s Havana is a Really Big City. She is the founder of the MLA Cuban and Cuban Diaspora Cultural Expression Discussion Group.


Kristin Dykstra is Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Saint Michael’s College. Dykstra is the principal translator of The Winter Garden Photograph by Reina María Rodríguez and co-editor of Materia Prima, an anthology featuring Uruguayan writer Amanda Berenguer. Dykstra’s recent translations of Cuban literature also include complete books by Juan Carlos Flores, Angel Escobar, and Marcelo Morales, published in bilingual editions.


Dara E. Goldman is an Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Illinois, Urbana. She is the author of Out of Bounds: Islands and the Demarcation of Identity in the Hispanic Caribbean. She is currently completing a project on how recent Cuban cultural production challenges dominant depictions of the island as a land frozen in time or as a model of anti-imperial resilience.


Emily A. Maguire is Associate Professor of Spanish at Northwestern University, where she specializes in literature of the Hispanic Caribbean and its diasporas. The author of Racial Experiments in Cuban Literature and Ethnography, she has published articles on contemporary Caribbean Literature, Afrocubanismo, Black Internationalism, Latina/o poetry, Latina/o science fiction, and Cuban cyberpunk. She is currently at work on a project on Caribbean science fiction.