Daína Chaviano

Daína Chaviano
Daína Chaviano
Born Havana, Cuba
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Cuban-USA
Genres Fantasy, science fiction, mainstream, historical fiction
Notable work(s) The Island of Eternal Love
Relative(s) César Évora (cousin)


Daina Chaviano (Spanish pronunciation: [daˈina tʃaβiˈano]) (born 1960.[1] in Havana) is a Cuban writer.

She is considered one of the three most important female fantasy and science fiction writers in the Spanish language, along with Angélica Gorodischer (Argentina) and Elia Barceló (Spain), forming the so-called “feminine trinity of science fiction in Latin America.”[2]

In Cuba, she published several science fiction and fantasy books, becoming the most renowned and best-selling author in those genres in Cuban literature.[1] Since leaving the island, she has distinguished herself with a series of novels incorporating historical and more contemporary matters as well as mythological and fantastic elements.



When she had barely begun her university studies, she won the first science fiction competition ever organized in Cuba with her short story collection Los mundos que amo (The Worlds I Love). After earning a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature at the University of Havana, she established the first science fiction literary workshop in her country, which she named “Oscar Hurtado” in honor of the father of that genre on the Caribbean island.[3]

In 1991 she left Cuba, establishing residency in the United States, where she worked as a translator, columnist, and editor.

In 1998 she achieved international recognition when she was awarded the Azorín Prize for Best Novel in Spain for El hombre, la hembra y el hambre. This work forms part of her series «The Occult Side of Havana», together with Casa de juegos, Gata encerrada, and La isla de los amores infinitos (The Island of Eternal Love, Riverhead Books, 2008). The series has been described as “the most coherent novelistic project of its generation, indispensable for understanding the social psychology and spiritual vicissitudes of the Cuban people.”[4]

In 2004 she was guest of honor at the 25th International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) in the United States. It was the first time that honor had ever been conferred on a Spanish language writer.[5]

In 2007 her novel The Island of Eternal Love won the Gold Medal at the Florida Book Awards competition in the category of Best Book in the Spanish Language.[6] The Island of Eternal Love has been published in 25 languages, making it the most widely translated Cuban novel of all time.[7]

She is the cousin of the famous Cuban actor César Évora.

Literary influences

Her literary influences derive fundamentally from the Celtic world, from diverse mythologies, and from the principal epics of ancient peoples. Among these sources one can find the Arthurian cycle; Greek, Roman, Egyptian, pre-Columbian and Afro-Cuban myths; and humankind’s first epics, dating back to prehistory, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Mahabharata, the Popol Vuh, the Odyssey, and other similar works.[8][9]

The author has observed that she has no affinity whatsoever with Cuban literature of any period.[9] Chaviano has stated that, with the exception of authors like Manuel Mujica Laínez and Mario Vargas Llosa,[10] her only point of contact with Latin America is pre-Columbian mythology.

The author has said that her passion for Anglo-Saxon literature was always so strong that, when she entered the university, she decided to major in English literature so that she could read many of these authors in their original language.[11]

In general terms, her contemporary influences come from European and Anglophone authors like Margaret Atwood, Milan Kundera, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Anaïs Nin, J. R. R. Tolkien, and William Shakespeare, among others.[9]


Daína Chaviano’s works have been described as “bold experiments that break down the boundaries between genres.”[3] It has been observed that her style is characterized by:

1. Highly poetic prose, indebted to cinematic imagery, which leaves the reader with the impression that s/he has seen, rather than read, a story.

2. A fondness for the magical or fantastic anecdote, which nonetheless lends a high degree of realism to the narrative, thanks to a well-grounded knowledge of the religious and mythological elements of Celtic, Christian, Afro-Cuban, pre-Columbian, and Greco-Roman cultures.

3. Several interpretive levels and a plethora of hidden meanings in her books, whether they be fantasy, science fiction, or realism.[4]

Works in English

  • 2008: The Island of Eternal Love (trans. by Andrea Labinger). Riverhead Books-Penguin Group, New York.[12]
  • 2003: "The Annunciation" (short story, trans. by Juan Carlos Toledano), Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain, Edit.by Andrea L. Bell & Yolanda Molina-Gavilán. Wesleyan UP, Connecticut.

Works in Spanish

Outside Cuba:

  • 2007: Historias de hadas para adultos (novellas). Minotauro, Spain.
  • 2006: La isla de los amores infinitos (novel). Grijalbo, Spain.
  • 2005: El abrevadero de los dinosaurios (short stories). Nueva Imagen, Mexico.
  • 2004: Los mundos que amo (short novel). Alfaguara, Colombia.
  • 2003: Fábulas de una abuela extraterrestre (novel). Oceano, Mexico.
  • 2001: País de dragones (short stories). Espasa Juvenil, Spain.
  • 2001: Gata encerrada (novel). Planeta, Spain.
  • 1999: Casa de juegos (novel). Planeta, Spain.
  • 1998: El hombre, la hembra y el hambre (novel). Planeta, Spain.
  • 1994: Confesiones eróticas y otros hechizos (poetry). Betania, Spain.

In Cuba:

  • 1990: El abrevadero de los dinosaurios (short stories).
  • 1989: La anunciación (film script).
  • 1988: Fábulas de una abuela extraterrestre (novel).
  • 1986: Historias de hadas para adultos (novellas).
  • 1983: Amoroso planeta (short stories).
  • 1980: Los mundos que amo (short stories).


  • 2008: Finalist of the Prix Relay du Roman d'Évasion (France), for L'île des amours éternelles (The Island of Eternal Love).
  • 2007: Gold Medal Winner in the Florida Book Awards, for Best Spanish Language Book (USA), for La isla de los amores infinitos (The Island of Eternal Love).
  • 2004: Guest of Honor at the 25th International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, Fort Lauderdale (USA).
  • 2003: Goliardos Fantasy International Award (Mexico), for Fábulas de una abuela extraterrestre.
  • 1998: Azorín Prize for Best Novel (Spain), for El hombre, la hembra y el hambre.
  • 1990: Anna Seghers Award, Academy of Arts in Berlin (Germany), for Fábulas de una abuela extraterrestre.
  • 1989: "La Edad de Oro" (The Golden Age) National Prize for Children's and Young People's Literature (Cuba), for País de dragones.
  • 1988: "13 de marzo", Best Literary Film Script (Cuba), for La anunciación.
  • 1979: David National Prize for Best SF Book (Cuba), for Los mundos que amo.


  1. ^ a b Toledano, Juan C. "Daína Chaviano", Latin American Science Fiction Writers: An A-to-Z Guide, Ed. by Darrell B. Lockhart, Greenwood Press, 2004, p, 54-55.
  2. ^ Piña, Begoña. “Daína Chaviano, la memoria y la salvación del futuro”. Qué Leer, January 9, 2006, p. 75.
  3. ^ a b Herrera-Mulligan, Michelle. When Sci-Fi Meets Sexy. Críticas Magazine, January/February 2004, p. 24-6.
  4. ^ a b Literatura cubana en el exilio. Accessed July 10, 2008.
  5. ^ "Here There Be Dragons: The Global Fantastic", Conference Booklet, ICFA Guests of Honor 1980-2004, p. 39
  6. ^ Miami author wins gold The Miami Herald, March 10, 2007, p. 5E.
  7. ^ Fuentes, Yvette. Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2, Fall 2008, ISSN 1547-7150
  8. ^ Moreno, Sarah. "Daína Chaviano, sus pasiones y fantasías". El Nuevo Herald, 29 abril, 2007, p.3D.
  9. ^ a b c Mayor Marsán, Maricel. ”Daína Chaviano: Entre la ciencia ficción y lo sobrenatural”. Revista Baquiana, año VI, Nº 33/34, enero/abril 2005, p. 193-9
  10. ^ Triff, Soren. ”La maldición de escribir en Miami”. Catálogo de Letras, Miami. Número 13, 1998, p. 6-7
  11. ^ Oliva, José. "Daína Chaviano apuesta por la literatura surrealista". Diario Las Américas. Miami, 13 junio 1999, pag, 11-B
  12. ^ Laura Dail Literary Agency News.

External links

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