Giannina Braschi Biography
Giannina Braschi was born on February 5, 1953, on the island of San Juan, Puerto Rico to a family of professionals. Her father, Euripedes, was a professional tennis champion and auto dealer, and his father was an engineer. Braschi's mother, Edmee Firmi, was a realtor whose father was the first automobile importer to the island of San Juan and whose mother was an English professor.
Braschi would follow the professional path her ancestors laid before her. In 1966, she became the youngest female tennis champion in Puerto Rico and in 1970, left home to study literature in Madrid, Rome, London and Paris. In 1974, she ended up in graduate school in New York City where she earned a PhD in Hispanic literature from the State University of New York, Stony Brook.
Her first published work was a book of poetry, "Asalto al tiempo," written in Spanish prose and published in Barcelona in 1980. Since then she has had critical essays, a novella, and more poetry published in Spanish and in 1994, the first English translation of her collected works was published in a poetry trilogy entitled "Empire of Dreams." She then went on to write "Yo-Yo Boing!," the first novel written in Spanglish which was published by Latin American Literary Review Press in 1998 and was the inaugural selection for the Yale Library of Literature in Translation.
Additional accolades received by Braschi include a Ford Foundation Fellowship, 1978-1980; Danforth Scholarship, 1978-1980; Institutio de Puerto Rico en New York Poetry Award, 1979; Institutio de Cooperación Iberoamericana, Madrid, 1980; Rutgers University Minority Faculty Award, 1983; Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña Travel Grant, 1988-1989; Painted Bride Art Center Poetry Grant, 1989-1990; Puerto Rican Institute of Culture Poetry Grant, 1989-1990; InterAmericas Poetry Grant, 1994; National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, 1995; Reed Foundation Poetry Grant, 1997; Colgate University National Endowed Distinguished Chair, 1997; el diario/La Prensa's Outstanding Latina Award, 1999; PEN American Center's Open Book Awards, 1999 (for "Yo-Yo Boing!"); New York Foundation for the Arts Fiction Fellowship, 2000; Ledig House, Omni International Arts Center Writer in Residence, 2003; Baltic Center for Writers and Translators Writer in Residence, 2009; PEN American Center Judge of Latin American literature, 2010.
Known for her experimental linguistic techniques, foreign influences, and passion for conveying the Hispanic experience in America, Braschi takes on issues such as ethnic cleansing, Imperialism and marginality with heroism and purpose. Her love affair with the city of New York is the basis for much of her work, most notably "Empire of Dreams" in which she calls for the revolution of poetry among the diverse and cross-cultural New York citizenry.
Braschi resides in New York City and is currently working on a collection of essays in English entitled "Hamlet and Segismundo," which considers the demise of a 21st century empire from an immigrant's point of view.