Competition: Latin America & Caribbean
Universidad de Puerto Rico
Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Mayra Santos-Febres is a novelist, poet, essayist, radio and television personality, and a professor in the humanities division of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.
While still an undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico, Ms. Santos-Febres was already an internationally published author, with her stories and articles appearing in such journals and newspapers as Casa de las Américas (Cuba), Página doce (Argentina), Revue Noir (France), and the Latin American Revue of Arts and Literature (New York City). In 1991, the same year she received her Ph.D. from Cornell University, her first two collections of poems were both critically acclaimed: Anamú y maniqua (San Juan, PR: Ed. La iguana dorada) was selected as one of the best books published in Puerto Rico in that year, and the Tríptico Review awarded El orden escapada (San Juan: Ed. Tríptico) its first prize in poetry.
Her short stories were equally well received. For example, her collection Pez de vidrio, published by the North South Center of the University of Miami, won the Premio Letras de Oro; and her short story “Oso Blanco” garnered the Radio Internationale Juan Rulfo Award in 1996.
Sirena Selena vestida de pena (Spain: Grijalbo Mondadori, 2000) was Ms. Santos-Febres first novel. A finalist for the 2001 Rómulo Gallego’s Prize for the Novel, it won the PEN Club of Puerto Rico’s prize for best novel, and was subsequently translated into English and Italian. When Random House Mondadori published her second novel, Cualquier miércoles soy tuya, in 2002, the first edition sold out in a month; a second edition, issued in Spain and the Americas, did nearly as well; an English translation was published by Penguin Books. Her third novel, Nuestra Señora de las noche ((Rayo/HarperCollins, 2008), placed as a finalist for the Premio Primavera Literary Award, and captured Puerto Rico’s 2007 Premio Nacional de Literatura.
Mayra Santos-Febres is also well known as an essayist and book critic, and she reviews books regularly on Univision television. She also hosts the Radio Universidad show En su tinta. In her academic work as teacher and researcher, she specializes in African, Caribbean, and feminist literature. During her Guggenheim Fellowship term, she plans to complete a historical novel entitled El mal de Gardel.