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La Brega Presents: Esmeralda Santiago on Language and History

La Brega

WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios

Podcast, Puerto, San, Historia, La, De, Vieques, Juan, Rico, Society & Culture, Levittown, Noticias, Brega

4.91K Ratings

🗓️ 23 August 2023

⏱️ 20 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


The writer Esmeralda Santiago’s latest book, “Las Madres,” is an intergenerational story about Puerto Rico, our history, and what it means to remember it. She recently spoke with The New Yorker’s Vinson Cunningham in an episode for The New Yorker Radio Hour, and we thought La Brega listeners would appreciate hearing this conversation about language and the longing. In 2008, Santiago suffered a stroke and had to relearn how to read words using some of the same strategies she had used to first learn English after moving to the States. In “Las Madres” a character named Luz has a similar experience. “For me, Luz is almost representative of Puerto Rico itself. We have this very long history that we don’t necessarily have access to. . . . Those of us who live outside of the island, we live the history but we don’t really know it.” You can find more of the The New Yorker Radio Hour from WNYC Studios here, or wherever you get podcasts.

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Ola, HENYC Studios.


Ola, K'm here, and here


I'm here here


I'm just popping in


I'm just popping in with a conversation I heard this week


that I thought you


La Brega listeners would actually really like. So I'm sharing it with you today.


It's a conversation from the New Yorker radio hour, and it's between author Ismeralda Santiago and New Yorker staff writer Vincent Cunningham.


I really got a lot out of it, and I thought this would be particularly interesting to you as a listener of our bilingual show.


Because in this interview, Santiago talks a lot about translations.


How being Puerto Rican and growing up in New York has meant she's living a life moving between


languages. And what that meant for her recently recovering from a stroke


Vincent Cunningham from the New Yorker has always been a big admirer of her work too.


As Maraldo Santiago, especially in her early memoirs of moving from rural Puerto Rico to the


hustle and bustle of New York York is someone that I consider one of our


foremost chroniclers of what it means to grow up, one of the great crafters of coming of age narrative and can really move you through, you know, the growing


consciousness of a person as their circumstances change in sometimes surprising, sometimes terrifying ways.


San Diego's new book,


La Madres, is not a coming-of-age story.


It's about people later in life looking back.


Here's Esmeralda Santiago in conversation


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