Esmeralda Santiago

Puerto Rican writer and actress

Esmeralda Santiago (born May 17, 1948) is a Puerto Rican author and former actress.

Quotes edit

  • My own ancestors. I come from poor, landless peasants who left no records. And so I began to read the story of Puerto Rico, and the more I read the story the more I realized I would never find my own ancestors, but I could make my imaginary ancestors. And so the book emerges as a result of my trying to create them, to create the people that might have been.
  • At a certain point, I gave up on the idea that I’m not enough for other people…You are enough for you if you believe that you are enough for you. Whatever they say — you’re not Latina enough, or feminine enough or smart enough, you know ... just say ‘fuck you.’ That’s their problem.
  • I thought, 'I have been through this process before’…When I was 13 years old I came from Puerto Rico to the United States not knowing any English. What I did at that time was I went to the public library, and I would go to the children’s book section where there would be alphabet books and everything would be illustrated. So it was very easy to connect the words to the images. I said, ‘I’m just going to do the same thing. If I did it once before, I can do it again.’
  • How can you know what you're capable of if you don't embrace the unknown?
    • Conquistadora (2011)
  • “I learned you pay for your happiness. That's why I don't expect to be happy all the time. I'd rather be surprised by one moment every so often to remind me that joy is possible, even if I have to pay for it later.”
    • Conquistadora (2011)

"Puerto Rican Author Esmeralda Santiago On Preserving Boricua Stories: “They Belong To Us”" in Remezcla (2018) edit

  • “I didn’t leave Puerto Rico. A mí me sacaron,” she tells me, referring to her exodus from Puerto Rico as a girl from San Juan. “I think nobody would prefer to leave that way.”
  • Edmaris Carazo, who the author says is one of her favorite talents from Puerto Rico at the moment...For Santiago, the impetus to develop a new tradition of Puerto Rican authors comes from her beginnings in literature, back in her childhood when she spent time in the backyard of a family member’s house in el campo. There, she listened to relatives tell trovas – oral tradition in rhyme. She also credits her dad’s love for poetry and Puerto Rican authors Julia de Burgos, Manuel Alonso, and Luis Palés Matos with sparking her interest.
  • Through her work, she has shown a remarkable commitment to maintaining the stories of Puerto Rico in boricua hands. “If we preserve our stories, then they belong to us,” she says.

When I Was Puerto Rican (1993) edit

  • For me, the person I was becoming when we left was erased, and another one was created.
  • I wondered if men ever talked like this, if their sorrows ever spilled into these secret cadences.
  • What doesn't kill you, makes you fat.

Quotes about Esmeralda Santiago edit

  • (What books or authors have most inspired you? What books did you read while working on Ordinary Girls?) JD: Definitely Esmeralda Santiago’s When I Was Puerto Rican. It was one of the very first times I saw myself in a book written in English. Before then, to me, it seemed like Puerto Ricans didn’t even exist in American publishing. As a kid, I went to the library and everything the librarian handed me were books written by white people about white people — mostly by white men. When I Was Puerto Rican still feels relevant and iconic for me.
  • Esmeralda Santiago has defined the literature of the Puerto Rican diaspora.

External links edit

Wikipedia has an article about: