Since the publication of her memoir in 1993, Santiago has become one of the most studied Latina writers in the United States. Her work illuminates the reasons Puerto Ricans have immigrated to the United States and the challenges immigrants–particularly women–face in negotiating their cultural identity.
Born in Puerto Rico in 1948, Esmeralda Santiago was the eldest of eleven children of her single mother, Ramona Santiago. In 1961, she moved with her family to New York City. Her first book,
In 1997, Santiago published her first novel,
Santiago next published
Santiago’s books share common themes: the experience of immigration, the negotiation between two cultures and languages, the struggles of women living in a patriarchal society, and the difficult journey of women in search of independence. Her work shares much in common with that of other Puerto Rican writers in the United States; at the same time, it has much in common with the larger body of American Latina literature that, while also negotiating biculturalism, challenges patriarchal society. Santiago is also the author of the children’s book A Doll for Navidades (2005) and is the editor of two anthologies, Las Christmas: Favorite Latino Authors Share Their Holiday Memories (1998) and Las Mamis: Favorite Latino Authos Remember Their Mothers (2000).
Hernández, Carmen. “Esmeralda Santiago.” In Puerto Rican Voices in English: Interviews with Writers. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1997. Keavane, Bridget. “Puerto Rican Existentialist in Brooklyn: An Interview with Esmeralda Santiago.” In Latina Self-Portraits: Interviews with Contemporary Women Writers, edited by Juanita Heredia and Bridget Kevane. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000. Rodríguez-Mangual, Edna. “Esmeralda Santiago.” In Latino and Latina Writers, edited by Alan West-Durán. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2004.
Latin American immigrants
Latinos and immigrants
New York City
Puerto Rican immigrants