Giannina Braschi

1953 –

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

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

Braschi 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, as well as Yo-Yo Boing!, which is 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 Waste Land” of the [twenty-first] 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.

Braschi’s honors include awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Danforth Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Puerto Rican Institute for Culture, Rutgers University, and PEN America. In 2022, she received the Enrique Anderson Imbert Award from the North American Academy of the Spanish Language.

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