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Giannina Braschi

1953–

Giannina Braschi was born on February 5, 1953, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She holds a Ph.D. in Hispanic Literatures from the State University of New York, Stony Brook.

Braschi has published numerous works in Spanish, Spanglish, and English, including El imperio de los sueños (Anthropos, 1988), Yo-Yo Boing! (Latin American Literary Review Press, 1998) and United States of Banana (AmazonCrossing, 2011). Her scholarly publications include a book on Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer and essays on Cervantes, Garcilaso, Machado, and García Lorca. Her collected poems were translated into English by Tess O’Dwyer as Empire of Dreams (Yale University Press, 1994).

She is the subject of Poets, Philosophers, Lovers: On the Writings of Giannina Braschi (Latinx and Latin American Profiles, Pittsburgh, 2020), a collection of essays edited by Frederick Luis Aldama and Tess O’Dwyer with a foreword by Ilan Stavans.

The Library of Congress describes Braschi as “cutting-edge, influential and even revolutionary,” noting that there are “elements of art, culture, philosophy, and politics in all of her literary works, which include the Postmodern poetry classic Empire of Dreams and Yo-Yo Boing!, credited with being the first novel to be written in Spanglish. Her latest novel, United States of Banana has been described as experimental, revolutionary and profoundly philosophical. It is to be read as The Wasteland of the 21st century.”

Poet Alicia Ostriker writes “Empire of Dreams is a masterpiece,” noting that the writing is “concerned with writing and language itself, its relation to memory and desire, its boundaries and genres and the possibilities of transgressing and crossing dressing them. Poetry here dresses itself in the garb of dramatic monologue, love letter, TV commercial, diary excerpt, movie criticism, celebrity confession, literary theory, bastinado, manifesto, etc. ‘Reality’ and ‘fantasy’ interpenetrate. The ‘I’ is an elusive entity, a ‘void that abhors the void’. Despair is handled with acute comedy. Eroticism is icily analyzed without losing its heat. ‘Poetry is this screaming madwoman’. And these cerebral and passionate games proceed with a relentless intensity one sees in no other writer.”

Her honors include awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Danforth Foundation, Ford Foundation, Puerto Rican Institute for Culture, Rutgers University, PEN America, and others.

Braschi taught Hispanic Literatures at Rutgers University, Colgate University, and City University of New York. She lives in New York City.

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