Santiago Vaquera Vásquez
Born in northern California in 1966, Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez is an unrepentant border crosser, narrator, painter, ex dj, and academic. Currently an Assistant Professor of US Latino/a cultures and Creative Writing in Spanish at the University of Iowa, he has also taught at Penn State, at Texas A & M University, and has been a visiting scholar at Dartmouth College. In 2006, as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Spain, he lectured at la Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, and la Universidad de Salamanca. His academic work on US/Mexico border cultures has been published in journals and anthologies in Europe and Latin America.
His stories have appeared in journals as Paralelo Sur, Barcelona Review, and Camino Real (Spain), Etiqueta Negra, and Revista Número 0 (Latin America), and in major anthologies dedicated to writing from the Spanish speaking Americas, Líneas aéreas (Madrid: Lengua de trapo, 1999), Se habla español. Voces Latinas en USA (Miami: Alfaguara 2000), El dinosaurio anotado (Mexico: Alfaguara, 2002), and Pequeñas resitencias 4 (Madrid: Páginas de espuma, 2005).
Santiago has recently completed two manuscripts, a novel and a collection of short stories. The novel, Esperando en el Lost and Found, is at one level a road novel about a painter, Daniel, traveling across the southwestern United States while communicating with a woman he once knew, Carmen. In his emails to her he reflects on music, on relationships and on stories that he’s been told. Though he never tells her explicitly, in his communication he is trying to understand how his marriage has become unraveled and how he has become untethered in time, jumping back to different moments in his past. Cutting across the narrative are also the characters of the Cowboy who tells the story in the third-person, and the Watcher, who reflects upon the events from a time and place, “light years away.”
The larger story is one of travel, and the characters who populate the novel are all, to some degree, travelers, wanderers building a home out of movement.
The collection of short stories, Estampas de Califas, offers a series of tales and vignettes that paint a portrait of a Mexican American/Chicano community in a small town in northern Californian.
Vaquera-Vásquez is also an essayist, and has published a number of works combining memoir with cultural commentary. These essays are planned to be collected later in a book on his life crossing different borders, geographic, linguistic, and metaphorical.
“Border citizen as he is, Santiago Vaquera has a great sensibility for peoples and places. Each one of his character's crossings through the United States is a journey to our very own and most intimate truths.”— Santiago Roncagliolo, author
“Santiago Vaquera is literary lightning. He impresses, he illuminates, and when he is at his best you are left shaken, in awe.”— Junot Díaz (author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao)