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N.Y. Encyclopedia of Famous Puerto Ricans    

Esmeralda Santiago

ESMERALDA SANTIAGO was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She came to the United States when she was thirteen years old, the eldest in a family that would eventually include eleven children. Ms. Santiago attended New York City's Performing Arts High School, where she majored in drama and dance. After eight years of part-time study at community colleges, she transferred to Harvard University with a full scholarship. She studied film production and graduated in 1976 magna cum laude. Shortly after graduation, she and her husband, Frank Cantor, founded CANTOMEDIA, a film and media production company, which has won numerous awards for excellence in documentary filmmaking.

Her writing career evolved from her work as a producer/writer of documentary and educational films. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in national newspapers including the New York Times and the Boston Globe, and on mass market magazines like House & Garden, Metropolitan Home, and Good Housekeeping.

Upon publication of her first book, the memoir When I was Puerto Rican, Ms. Santiago was hailed as "a welcome new voice, full of passion and authority," by the Washington Post Book World.

Her first novel, America's Dream, has been published in six languages, and was an Alternate Selection of the Literary Guild. "Thrilling and page turning, the fabulous story of América Gonzalez is laid out masterfully," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Her second memoir, Almost a Woman, received numerous "Best of Year" mentions, in addition to an Alex Award from the American Library Association. It has recently been adapted into a film for Exxon Mobil Masterpiece Theatre, which premiered nationally on PBS at 8:00pm September 14, 2002.

With Joie Davidow, Ms. Santiago is coeditor of the anthologies, Las Christmas: Favorite Latino Authors Share Their Holiday Memories and Las Mamis: Favorite Latino Authors Remember their Mothers both published by Knopf.

In addition to her literary endeavors, Ms. Santiago is an active volunteer. She is a spokesperson on behalf of public libraries. She has designed and developed community-based programs for adolescents, and was a founder of a shelter for battered women and their children. She serves on the boards of organizations devoted to the arts and to literature, and speaks vehemently about the need to encourage and support the artistic development of young people.

In addition to literary and community service awards, Ms. Santiago has earned a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and Honorary Doctor of Letters from Trinity University and from Pace University. She lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and two children.

                      bio taken from her web site


Her Official Site

Boricuas Hall Of Fame Home Page

Reading Group Center
A note to the reader from Santiago.
Esmeralda Santiago: Pagina Central
Biographical and bibliographical information in Spanish.
Splendid Table Recipe Box
Recipes from cookbook co-edited by Santiago.


1. When I Was Puerto Rican
    by Esmeralda Santiago (Paperback - October 1994)

2. Almost a Woman
    by Esmeralda Santiago (Paperback - October 1999)

3. Casi una mujer
    by Esmeralda Santiago (Paperback - October 1999)

4. America's Dream
    by Esmeralda Santiago (Author) (Paperback - May 1997)

5. Cuando era puertorriqueña
    by Esmeralda Santiago (Paperback - October 1994)

6. Las Mamis
    by Esmeralda Santiago (Editor), et al (Hardcover - April 2000)

7. El sueño de América
    by Esmeralda Santiago (Author) (Paperback - May 1997)

8. Las Christmas: Favorite Latino Authors Share Their Holiday Memories
    by Esmeralda Santiago (Contributor), et al (Paperback - October 1999)

9. Las Christmas: escritores latinos recuerdan las tradiciones navideñas
    by Esmeralda Santiago (Editor), Joie Davidow (Editor) (Paperback -

                  Saturday January 17, 2004