The North American Academy of the Spanish Language (ANLE) has bestowed its 2022 Enrique Anderson Imbert Award upon the renowned Puerto Rican writer Giannina Braschi.
This national award recognizes those who have made sustained and significant contributions to the knowledge and dissemination of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures in the US.
“The jury unanimously selected Giannina Braschi, whose rich and bountiful career defies any simplifying classification,” announced Carlos E. Paldao, director of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language. “Her prolific career, which extends from groundbreaking research on Hispanic classics to her spectacular work as a renowned and award-winning creator, places her among the most innovative and influential voices of Hispanic letters in the United States. Braschi contributes to the dissemination of Hispanic culture and literature from the most avant-garde and invigorating perspective. She has left her imprint not only on the Spanish- but on the English-speaking world as well, given the prominence that some of her works have had in striking translations. Her writing reflects the richness of language taken to new linguistic and narrative heights by masterfully interweaving literary genres and linguistic explorations, in keeping with new forms of expression, of which she is a pioneer,” Paldao added.
Braschi expressed her elation at winning the academy’s highest honor. “It is particularly meaningful for me to receive this wonderful news on the anniversary of Cervantes’ life. My literary career begins with Cervantes. When I was 22 years old, I wrote an essay entitled ‘Five Fleeting Characters on Don Quixote’s Path,’ which centers on the Quixotic ideals: love, poetry, chivalry, liberty, and justice,” she explained. “The essay begins like this: ‘Don Quixote–Alonso Quijano, an old man: a dual creature with a cast that imprisons an intimate nucleus, a jingle bell, always restless and full of life.’ I consider this essay the beginning of my work. Now I am finishing a book entitled Putinoika, a term I’ve coined to define the era of Putin and Trump. We once had perestroika, and now we have Putinoika. We once had angels in America, as Tony Kushner said, and now we have Putinas in America. Whether I write in Spanish, Spanglish, or English, and no matter the genre, I always have these Quixotic ideals in my heart and in my mind.”
With a PhD in Hispanic literatures from the State University of New York, she taught at Rutgers University, the City University of New York, and Colgate University.
Her work represents an essential contribution to the advancement, strengthening, and expansion of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures in the US, in addition to being highly innovative and of extraordinary intellectual value. She occupies a prominent place among Latin American intellectuals for her critical stance against American colonialism and for alternating the use of Spanish, Spanglish, and English in her work.
An amalgam of poetry, theater, and philosophy, Braschi’s best-known titles include Empire of Dreams (1988), about her sociopolitical, cultural, and linguistic relationship with New York City; Yo-Yo Boing! (1998), a work written in Spanglish that delves into such themes as racism, colonialism, and domestic violence; and United States of Banana (2011), a geopolitical tragicomedy that satirizes the fall of the American empire and the liberation of Puerto Rico.
Her publications have garnered considerable national and pan-Hispanic prominence and are widely taught in colleges and universities internationally. She is the subject of an extensive and ever-expanding critical bibliography, including a recent anthology edited by Frederick Luis Aldama and Tess O’Dwyer, Poets, Philosophers, Lovers: On the Writings of Giannina Braschi.
Braschi’s work has inspired countless cultural adaptations, from the musical compositions of Puerto Rican composer Gabriel Bouche Caro to the graphic novel version of United States of Banana by Swedish cartoonist Joakim Lindengren. She recently won the Cambiemos Award from the Spanish magazine Cambio 16.
“The decision of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language to select Giannina Braschi for the 2022 Enrique Anderson Imbert Award not only augments the international recognition of this distinguished Puerto Rican writer but also marks a milestone in pan-Hispanic openness to works that question—with masterful precision and without ideological clichés—the boundaries between genres and languages, articulating a polyphonic, philosophical, and poetic vision of the tragicomedy of postmodern globalism,” noted José Luis Vega, director of the Puerto Rican Academy of the Spanish Language. “Cervantes, whose memory is revered this week, would have certainly concurred with the jury’s decision. Congratulations, Giannina Braschi!”