Bocas News

News throughout each festival and all year round

Judge Spotlight: Achy Obejas

By Shivanee Ramlochan, 2012 Bocas Lit fest blogger


Greetings, Bocas enthusiasts! As you might have read on the site earlier, official manuscript submissions for this year’s prize were closed on January 6th. Around four dozen titles were entered for consideration, and the judging panel has been hard at work for some time now, eagerly poring over them. There won’t be official word from the judges for a while, on which books will proclaim themselves as longlist contenders. In the interim, why don’t we get to know the judges themselves? First, we’ll spend some time with Achy Obejas, one of the fiction judges, a Cuban-American writer, translator and journalist.

Obejas’ work is described as deeply concerned with notions of self-identification through the lenses of personal desire, historical weight, the immediacy of language and the calls of various homes. Here are some thoughts on her fiction titles:

Of Days of Awe, the San Jose Mercury News says:

“Rich and sonorous prose . . . There’s plenty of reason to hope for the future of a fiction that welcomes writers with such a passionate sense of the past.”

Of This is What Happened in Our Other Life, A Midsummer Night’s Press says:

“As in her novels, Obejas’ poems are often concerned with memory–the physical memories of the body, the ache of wanting–and of finding a way home again.”

Of Ruins, Junot Díaz (whose book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was translated by Obejas into Spanish) says:

“Daring, tough, and deeply compassionate, Achy Obejas’s Ruins is a breathtaker. Obejas writes like an angel, which is to say: gloriously . . . one of Cuba’s most important writers.”

Further Reading (Reviews/Interviews/Features):
♦ The first chapter of Ruins at The New York Times
♦ Review of Ruins at Blogcritics
♦ Review of Ruins at the CCLaP
♦ Interview at sx salon

In closing, enjoy this 2009 glimpse of Obejas reading from Ruins. We look forward to hearing from her, live and direct, in a matter of months! Check back tomorrow to meet our first non-fiction judge of the year.
Author photo copyrighted to Kaloian, here.