Achy Obejas

writer & translator


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THE COWBOY BIBLE reviewed at Bookslut

“The translation of The Cowboy Bible is no mean feat. Achy Obejas, acclaimed fiction writer and translator of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao into Spanish, embraces Velázquez’s irreverent linguistic play and neologisms and makes them her own in an English that revels in invention. In Obejas’s hands, pop culture references find their own idiomatic English that evokes the language of the blues: “The cousins, a female group from Argentina, sang Watch your hands, Antonio, ‘cuz Mama’s in the kitchen.” Given the repeated evocation of the legend of Robert Johnson’s crossroads deal with the Devil, these echoes gained in translation are not inappropriate. Little pearls like “all that yakking’s gonna win you a smacking” give a new life to Velazquez’s verbal acrobatics. Velázquez’s book celebrates the bastardization of language; Obejas’s translation keeps the party going. We can hope for more collaborations from this well-matched duo in the future.”

Review by Charlotte Whittle, in full, here.


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RUINS discussed at The Museum of Art and Archaeology’s Art of the Book Club

“Cuban-American novelist Achy Obejas also explores the complex collage of Cuban identity. Her novel “Ruins” examines her native country in wake of the end of the Soviet Union and its subsidies for its former communist ally in the Caribbean. With its Cuban-centered theme written by a Cuban-American novelist targeting a U.S. audience, “Ruins” (like the exhibition) also deals with fluid cultural boundaries. “Ruins” sought to redefine Cuba by understanding its culture from within, not just refracted through Cold War ideology or nostalgia for the Cuba of old movies.”

Read more about the event, and others, here.