Cuban-born writer, journalist spends month at WSU

3:09:01 PM CDT - Thursday, September 07, 2006

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

Achy Obejas, a writer who's won awards for both her fiction and reporting, will concentrate on teaching fiction when she spends this month at WSU as the creative writing program's distinguished writer in residence.

Obejas, who will be at WSU until Sept. 29 working with both graduate and undergraduate students, will also do a free public reading of her recent works in fiction at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, in 203 Rhatigan Student Center. A reception and book-signing will follow.

Achy Obejas
Achy Obejas
Obejas has written two novels "Days of Awe," which was cited by The Los Angeles Times as one of the best books of 2001, and "Memory Mambo" and a story collection, "We Came All the Way From Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?" Her poetry and stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.

But her writing isn't confined to fiction. As a journalist for The Chicago Tribune, Obejas helped cover Pope John Paul II's historic 1998 visit to her native Cuba, the arrival of al-Qaeda prisoners in Guantanamo, the murder of fashion clothier Gianna Versace and the AIDS epidemic, among other stories. She continues to write about arts and culture for the Chicago paper.

She won a Pulitzer for a Tribune team investigation, the Studs Terkel Journalism Prize, and several other honors for both her reporting and fiction.

Born in 1956 in Havana, Obejas arrived in the United States by boat at age 6 and grew up in the Midwest. Still, she has said, she has always identified with Cuba. Her birthplace, as she has imagined it and as she experienced it on subsequent visits, is central to her writing.

Her characters have been described as obsessed and transformed by exile, memory and the extraction of the truth who find themselves struggling with dangerous alliances, violence and devotion.

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