Giannina Braschi

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Giannina Braschi
Born (1953-02-05) February 5, 1953 (age 66)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
OccupationPoet, novelist, essayist, dramatist
NationalityPuerto Rican, American
GenrePoetry, prose poetry, fiction, drama, novel, epic poetry
SubjectImmigration, independence, terrorism, inspiration, Latin America, Puerto Rico, revolution, war, love, American imperialism, New York, democracy, September 11 attacks
Literary movementPostmodernism, postcolonialism, spoken word, nuyorican, post-boom, McOndo
Notable worksYo-Yo Boing!; Braschi's Empire of Dreams; United States of Banana
Notable awardsPEN/Open Book Award; National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Danforth Scholarship, and Ford Foundation fellowships

Giannina Braschi (born February 5, 1953) is a Puerto Rican writer based in New York City. She is considered an influential and revolutionary voice in contemporary Latin American literature.[1][2][3][4] She writes experimental literature, mixing elements of poetry, theater, essay, musical, and manifesto. Braschi is known for having penned the first Spanglish novel Yo-Yo Boing! (1998), the post-modern poetry trilogy Empire of Dreams (1994), and the cross-genre novel of philosophical fiction, United States of Banana (2011). Her collective work explores the lives of Latin American immigrants in the United States.[5]

Early life[edit]

Giannina Braschi was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1953 to a family of Italian ancestry. As an adolescent in San Juan, she ranked first place in the U.S. Tennis Association's national tournament in Puerto Rico. In 1966 she became the youngest female tennis player to win the Women's Division on the island. Her father Euripides (called "Pilo") Braschi was also a tennis champion. She was also a founding member of the San Juan Children's Choir ("Coro de niños de San Juan") under music director Evy Lucio. She worked as a fashion model during her teen years.[6] In the late 1970s, she studied literature and philosophy in Madrid, Rome, Paris and London, before she settled in New York City.[7]

Academic career[edit]

Giannina Braschi obtained a PhD in Hispanic Literatures at State University of New York, Stony Brook in 1980. She has taught at Rutgers University, City University of New York, and Colgate University, where she served as a Distinguished Chair of Creative Writing (1997). She also served as a foreign correspondent for Grazie magazine (2001–2002). Braschi wrote scholarly essays about writers of the Spanish Golden Age, as well as the vanguard poets of Latin America and Spain. She published a book on the Romantic poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer and essays on Cervantes, Garcilaso, César Vallejo, Juan Ramon Jimenez and Federico García Lorca.

Literary career[edit]

Early Poetry in Spanish

In the 1980s, Giannina Braschi became known in the downtown Nuyorican poetry scene by her spoken word performances, which were noted for anti-imperialistic politics.[8] During this period, she wrote and recited her prose poems entirely in Spanish; three books were first published in Spanish. Her first collection of Spanish prose poetry, Asalto al tiempo (Assault on Time), was published in Barcelona in 1980; it was followed by La Comedia profana (1985, Profane Comedy), and El Imperio de los sueños (1988, Empire of Dreams). These three poetry titles were published together in English as the first volume of the Yale Library of Literature in Translation, under the title Empire of Dreams.[9]

New York City is the site and subject of much of her work. In a climactic episode of Braschi's Empire of Dreams, "Pastoral or the Inquisition of Memories", shepherds invade 5th Avenue during the Puerto Rican Day Parade and take over the City of New York; the shepherds ring the bells of St. Patrick's Cathedral, and seize the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Alicia Ostriker, a feminist poet and scholar, praised Braschi's Empire of Dreams, which features gender role-playing and transvestism. She says it has "sheer erotic energy that defies definition and dogma."[10]

Later Works in Spanglish and English

In the late 1990s, Giannina Braschi began writing and performing dramatic dialogues in English, Spanish, and Spanglish.[11] Her bilingual novel Yo-Yo Boing!, written in Spanglish and English, is experimental in format, subverting English-only laws, and criticizing ethnic cleansing campaigns and corporate censorship.[12] "For decades, Dominican and Puerto Rican authors have carried out a linguistic revolution", noted The Boston Globe, "and Giannina Braschi, especially in her novel Yo-Yo Boing!, testify to it".[13]

In 2011, Braschi published the cross-genre postcolonial novel United States of Banana; this was her first work written entirely in English.[14] [15] It is a postmodern work using different genres and techniques to explore shifts in the United States and the world after the attacks of 9/11. The work is a poetic critique of 21st-century capitalism and corporate censorship. In 2012, Braschi spoke on a panel on "The New Censorship" at the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature where she offered "a critique of 21st century capitalism in which [she] condemned corporate censorship and control."[16]

Though categorized as novels, Braschi's later works are experimental in style and format and celebratory of foreign influences.[17] In 2007, in the 50th anniversary edition of Evergreen Review, Braschi noted that she considered herself "more French than Beckett, Picasso and Gertrude Stein", and identifies as the "granddaughter of Alfred Jarry and Antonin Artaud, bastard child of Samuel Beckett and James Joyce, half-sister to Heiner Müller, kissing cousin of Tadeusz Kantor, and lover of Witkiewicz".[18]


In 2011, AmazonCrossing for World Literature in Translation published Braschi's works under three separate English titles: Empire of Dreams (the poetry trilogy), Yo-Yo Boing!, and United States of Banana. Her collected poetry was translated into English by Tess O'Dwyer, who won the Columbia University Translation Center Award in 1991 for her version of Empire of Dreams. [19] Poet Helena Eriksson translated Braschi's Empire of Dreams and United States of Banana into Swedish.[20]. Cartoonist Joakim Lindengren created a graphic novel version of United States of Banana in Swedish in 2017.[21]

Political activism[edit]

Braschi has addressed the political status of Puerto Rico in her works, and explored alternative forms of government. On the subject of the island's lack of sovereignty, Braschi stated, "Liberty is not an option — it is a human right."[22]


  • Estados Unidos de Banana, AmazonCrossing, Madrid, 2015.
  • United States of Banana, AmazonCrossing, Seattle, 2011.
  • Yo-Yo Boing!, AmazonCrossing, Seattle, 2011.
  • Braschi's Empire of Dreams, AmazonCrossing, Seattle, 2011.
  • El imperio de los sueños, Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, 2000.
  • Yo-Yo Boing!, Latin American Literary Review, Pittsburgh, 1998.
  • Empire of Dreams (English translation by Tess O'Dwyer), Yale University Press, New Haven/London, 1994.
  • El imperio de los sueños, Anthropos Editorial del hombre, Barcelona, 1988.
  • Libro de payasos y bufones, Grafica Uno, Giorgio Upiglio, Milan, 1987.
  • La comedia profana, Anthropos Editorial del hombre, Barcelona, 1985.
  • Asalto al tiempo, Ambitos Literarios, Barcelona, 1980.

Scholarly works[edit]

  • "Breve tratado del poeta artista", Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos, No. 433-36, 1986 (an essay on the poetry of Federico García Lorca).
  • "La gravedad de la armonía en ‘Soledades galerías y otros pomas’ de Machado," Plural, 1983 (an essay on the poetry of Antonio Machado).
  • "La poesía de Bécquer: El tiempo de los objetos o los espacios de la luz", Costa Amic, Mexico City, 1982 (a scholarly book on the poetry of Gustavo Adolfo Becquer).
  • "La Metamorfosis del ingenio en la Égloga III de Garcilaso," Revista canadiense de estudios hispánicos, 1979 (an essay on Garcilaso's third eclogue).
  • "Cinco personajes fugaces en el camino de Don Quijote", Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos, No. 328, 1977 (an essay on five fleeting characters in Don Quixote by Cervantes).


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Giannina Braschi". National Book Festival. Library of Congress. 2012. ’Braschi: one of the most revolutionary voices in Latin America today’
  2. ^ "About Giannina Braschi: Book Fest 12". National Book Festival Transcript and Webcast. Washington, DC: Library of Congress. September 2012. ’Braschi, a poet, essayist and novelist often described as cutting-edge, influential and even revolutionary’
  3. ^ Johnson, Hannah (May 26, 2011). "#BEA11: Books on Display, the Amazon Publishing Booth". Publishing Perspectives. ’Braschi is Puerto Rico's most influential and versatile writer of poetry, fiction, and essays’
  4. ^ "'About Giannina Braschi'". University of Oklahoma: World Literature Today. September–October 2012. 'One of the most revolutionary voices in Latin American'
  5. ^ Aldama, Frederick, and Christopher González. Latinx Studies: The Key Concepts. Routledge, 2018.
  6. ^ Díaz, Carmen Graciela, "Avion, sol y libertad," El Nuevo Dia, 17 November 2011 [1]
  7. ^ http://nbclatino.com/2013/08/25/summer-reads-brilliant-takes-on-nuyoricans-random-murder-and-narco-literatura/
  8. ^ Cruz-Malavé, Arnaldo Manuel. "" Under the Skirt of Liberty": Giannina Braschi Rewrites Empire." American Quarterly 66.3 (2014): 801-818.
  9. ^ Braschi 1998: Yo-Yo Boing!: 13
  10. ^ Introduction to Giannina Braschi's Empire of Dreams, Alicia Ostriker, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994
  11. ^ Lengua Fresca, co-edited by Ilan Stavans and Harold Augenbraum
  12. ^ Introduction to Giannina Braschi's Yo-Yo Boing!, Doris Sommer, Harvard University, 1998.
  13. ^ The Boston Globe, "Spanglish is everywhere now, which is no problema for some, but a pain in the cuello for purists", by Ilan Stavans, 14 September 2003.
  14. ^ Sheeran, Amy, and Amanda M. Smith. "A Graphic Revolution: Talking Poetry & Politics with Giannina Braschi." Chiricù Journal: Latina/o Literature, Art, and Culture 2.2 (2018): United State of 3-4.
  15. ^ https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/giannina-braschi
  16. ^ Roth, Larry (May 7, 2012). "Rushdie Brings PEN Festival to Close". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Braschi, Giannina, "What to Read Now: Mixed-Genre Literature", World Literature Today, September–October 2012 [2]
  18. ^ The Evergreen Review's 50th Anniversary Edition, (www.evergreenreview.com), Giannina Braschi, 2007.
  19. ^ "Academy of American Poets Translator bios".
  20. ^ https://tranan.nu/bocker/drommarnas-imperium/
  21. ^ Sheeran, Amy, and Amanda M. Smith. "A Graphic Revolution: Talking Poetry & Politics with Giannina Braschi." Chiricù Journal: Latina/o Literature, Art, and Culture 2.2 (2018): United State of 3-4.
  22. ^ El Nuevo Dia News, Puerto Rico, September 24, 2012

Further reading[edit]

  • Ljudmila Mila Popovich (2010). "Metafictions, Migrations, Metalives: Narrative Innovations and Migrant Women’s Aesthetics in Giannina Braschi and Etel Adnan." International Journal of the Humanities 9:10. pp. 117–128.
  • Diane E. Marting (2010). "New/Nueva York in Giannina Braschi's 'Poetic Egg': Fragile Identity, Postmodernism, and Globalization." The Global South 4:1.
  • Marc Zimmerman (2011). "Defending Their Own in the Cold: The Cultural Turns of U.S. Puerto Ricans", University of Illinois, Chicago.
  • Gonzales, Madelena and Laplace-Claverie, Helene, “Minority Theatre on the Global Stage: Challenging Paradigms from the Margins," Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle, England, page xix and pages 255-264, 2012.

External links[edit]

  • [3] NY1 Noticias TV program PURA POLITICA, Juan Manuel Benitez, interview in Spanish Giannina Braschi on the political options of Puerto Rico, October 2011.
  • [4], The Evergreen Review, featuring reviews of "United States of Banana" by Cristina Garrigos and Daniela Daniele and videos of Giannina Braschi, November 2011.
  • [5], WAPA TV, "Escritora puertorriqueña que poco a poco se ha abierto paso en Estados Unidos" by Normando Valentín, December 2011.
  • "Nuyorican Power," program on Nuyorican culture, featuring Giannina Braschi, Produced By: Evan B. Stone & Carrie Pyle for CURRENT TV.
  • Video on YouTube, television program in Spanish, "Celebrities desde Nueva York," con Alfonso Diaz, featuring Giannina Braschi (on the collapse of the American Empire on September 11), November 2011.
  • [6] "Howdy Amiga Bienvenida," audio file of Giannina Braschi reading poems in Stockholm, Ars Interpress, 2006.
  • [7], "What to Read Now: Mixed-Genre Literature," World Literature Today, September–October 2012.
  • "Ground Zero," by Giannina Braschi, featured in Evergreen Review, edited by Barney Rosset.
  • "El futuro del idioma Español", Oppenheimer Presenta #276, on YouTube(featuring Director of La Real Academia Espanola Victor, Garcia de la Concha, and author Giannina Braschi).
  • "A la Vieille Russie" by Giannina Braschi.