Essayist, cultural critic, and translator
Ilan Stavans, one of today’s preeminent essayists, cultural critics, and translators, is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture and Five College-Fortieth Anniversary Professor at Amherst College.
A native from Mexico, he received his Doctorate in Latin American Literature from Columbia University. Stavans’ books include The Hispanic Condition (HarperCollins, 1995), On Borrowed Words (Viking, 2001), Spanglish (HarperCollins, 2003), Dictionary Days (Graywolf, 2005), The Disappearance (TriQuarterly, 2006), Love and Language (Yale, 2007), Resurrecting Hebrew (Nextbook, 2008), Mr. Spic Goes to Washington (Soft Skull, 2008), and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years (Palgrave, 2010).
He has edited The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories (Oxford, 1998), The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004), Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories (3 vols., Library of America, 2004), The Schocken Book of Sephardic Literature (Schocken, 2005), Cesar Chavez: An Organizer’s Tale (Penguin, 2008), Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing (Library of America, 2009), With All Thine Heart (Rutgers, 2010), The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (W.W. Norton, 2010), and The FSG Books of 20th-Century Latin American Poetry (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011).
His play The Disappearance, performed by the theater troupe Double Edge, premiered at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and has been shown throughout the world. His story “Morirse está en hebreo” was made into the award-winning movie My Mexican Shivah (2007), produced by John Sayles. Stavans has received numerous awards and honors, among them a Guggenheim Fellowship, the International Latino Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the Southwest Childrens Book of the Year Award, an Emmy nomination, the Latino Book Award, Chile’s Presidential Medal, the Rubén Darío Distinction, and the Cátedra Roberto Bolaño.
He was the host of the syndicated PBS show Conversations with Ilan Stavans (2001-2006). His work has been translated into a dozen languages. His most recent books are, as translator, Juan Rulfo’s The Plain in Flames (Texas, 2012), Pablo Neruda’s All the Odes (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013), and Mariano Azuela’s The Underdogs (Norton, 2014), and, as author, Return to Centro Histórico: A Mexican Jew Looks for His Roots
(Rutgers, 2012), the graphic novel El Iluminado (Basic, 2012, with Steve Sheinkin), and the children’s book Golemito (New South), and A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States (Basic, 2014). His books Reclaiming Travel (Duke), Quixote: The Novel and The World (Norton), and New World Haggadah (Gaon) are appearing in 2015.
He is the publisher of Restless Books and the co-founder of Great Books Summer program.