New York State Writers Institute
Judith Ortiz Cofer

Judith Ortiz Cofer

September 25, 2007 (Tuesday)
4:15 Seminar, Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00 p.m. Reading, Assembly Hall, Campus Center
University at Albany's Uptown Campus

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, Judith Ortiz Cofer is an award-winning poet, essayist, and novelist. Her work explores the experience of being Puerto Rican and living in the United States.

"a writer of authentic gifts, with a genuine and important story to tell." - New York Times Book Review

Cofer's first novel, "The Line of the Sun" (1989), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and was named a New York Public Library Outstanding Book of the Year. The novel traces the experiences of a family that emigrates from a poor Puerto Rican village to a tenement neighborhood in Paterson, New Jersey. Writing in the New York Times, Roberto Marquez praised the book for the "vigorous elegance" of its language, and called Cofer "a prose writer of evocatively lyrical authority, a novelist of historical compass and sensitivity."

Cofer's second novel, "The Meaning of Consuelo" (2003), tells the coming-of-age story of a Puerto Rican girl living in the suburbs of San Juan in the 1950s. A bookish adolescent, Consuelo must face the challenges posed by her parents' crumbling marriage and her younger sister's descent into mental illness.

"Cofer combines the timeless clarity and moral imperative of folktales with the timely wit of keen social criticism in an absorbing portrait of a smart and compassionate young woman. . ." - Booklist (starred review)

Cofer is also the author of "Woman in Front of the Sun: On Becoming a Writer" (2000), an autobiographical collection of essays, interwoven with poetry and folklore, and replete with wisdom for aspiring writers. The "Library Journal" reviewer said, "Cofer writes with conviction and power...."

Call Me Maria

Her most recent book is a young adult novel about the Puerto Rican-American immigrant experience, "Call Me Maria" (2006). Maria's father has taken her to live in a cramped basement apartment in New York, while her mother remains behind in Puerto Rico.

"Understated but with a brilliant combination of all the right words to convey events, Cofer aptly relates the complexities of Maria's two homes, her parents' lives, and the difficulty of her choice between them." - School Library Journal

Other books include the essay collection, "Silent Dancing" (1990), a New York Public Library Outstanding Book of the Year and winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Special Citation; the prose and poetry collection, "The Latin Deli" (1993), winner of the Anisfield Wolf Award in Race Relations; and the short story collection, "An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio" (1995), a Best Book of the Year of the American Library Association.

Judith Ortiz Cofer was also a guest of the Writers Institute on October 1, 1996.

cofer2.gif 13.1 K cofer4.gif 14.6 K cofer5.gif 13.6 K

Co-sponsored by the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
in conjunction with the National Hispanic Heritage Month