Esmeralda Santiago, a critically acclaimed Puerto Rican author and writer, will be in Chicago to have a public school named in her honor. The United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) operates the school, which is located in the heart of Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.
Juan Rangel, CEO of UNO, said the elementary is an important part of UNO’s effort to alleviate academic overcrowding in Chicago’s Hispanic neighborhoods.
“Esmeralda Santiago is a strong Latina voice in the world of literature,” said Rangel, whose UNO Charter School Network operates 11 charter schools in predominately Hispanic neighborhoods in Chicago. “She has accomplished so much in such a short time. Santiago is a true role model for young Latinas in Chicago and around the nation.”
SCHOOL NAMING CEREMONY
TIME and DATE: 10 a.m., May 2, 2012
WHERE: UNO Charter School at 2510 W. Cortez, Chicago, IL
VISUALS: Ms. Santiago will tour the school and be available for photo opportunities with a portrait of her, signs and banners.
-Her first book, a memoir of her childhood entitled When I Was Puerto Rican appeared in 1993 to great critical acclaim. She soon followed this memoir with the novel America’s Dream. Her most recent novel is entitled Almost a Woman.
-Aside from her achievements as a writer, Esmeralda Santiago is also an editor. Her work as an editor may be seen in Las Christmas: Favorite Latino Authors Share Their Holiday Memories. Currently, Santiago lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and two children.
-Santiago’s memoir of her Puerto Rican childhood culminates in her move to New York, where she gained an education, but lost the sense of belonging, within a family and within a culture, once so strong in her childhood. Santiago gives the point of view of the child in the earlier sections of the memoir. “Santiago’s autobiographical account cinematically recaptures her past and her island culture. What is particularly appealing about Santiago’s story is the insight it offers to readers unaware of the double bind Puerto Rican Americans find themselves in: the identity in conflict. Is [she] black or white? Is she rural or urban? Even more importantly, is she Puerto Rican or is she American? [One] can only be grateful that Esmeralda Santiago has chosen to explore her culture and share what she has found.” (The Los Angeles Times Book Review) Santiago communicates the textures of life (how to eat a guava, the ceremony for ushering a dead baby’s soul to heaven) in Puerto Rico most vividly, while at the same time dealing concretely with family relationships and conflicts. Her journey to a new country, like that of many Puerto Ricans touched on in her book, captures the experience of many American immigrant groups.