Biography of Esmeralda Santiago

Esmeralda Santiago was born in Puerto Rico on May 17, 1948. She moved to the United States with her family when she was thirteen years old. She is the author of three highly acclaimed memoirs, When I Was Puerto Rican, Almost a Woman, and The Turkish Lover. Almost a Woman was made into a Peabody Award–winning film for PBS Masterpiece Theater. Santiago is the author of the best-selling historical fiction novel, Conquistadora, along with other novels and essays. She co-authored with Joie Davidow two literary anthologies, Las Mamis and Las Christmas. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, and The Boston Globe.

In her sixties, Santiago suffered a stroke and lost the ability to read and write. Recounting that time, Santiago shares, “I felt as if I wasn’t myself, I couldn’t understand anything I read.” Yet, remembering the experience of learning to read English at 13, Santiago taught herself how to read again.

Santiago attended the Performing Arts High School in New York City. After working for eight years and attending community college, Santiago got a scholarship to Harvard University. She received a Masters in Fine Arts from Sarah Lawrence College in 1992.

Study Guides on Works by Esmeralda Santiago