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Chaviano, Daína

Entry updated 22 January 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1957-    ) Daína Chaviano is one of the most relevant Cuban authors today. Her career as a writer begun in sf and fantasy, but after moving to Miami in 1991 she became mostly a mainstream writer. However, she has never abandoned her commitment to fantasy, and has re-edited all her sf works outside of Cuba.

In 1979, Chaviano became the first author to win the sf edition of the prestigious David Award for new writers with the collection Los mundos que amo ["The Worlds I Love"] (coll 1980). The title story of this collection is one of her most popular. After appearing in this collection, it was re-edited by Chaviano herself as the photo romance Los mundos que amo (graph 1982) in Cuba; and much later, in 2004, her expanded version was produced by the prestigious Spanish publisher Alfaguara.

Chaviano became very popular on the island, not only as a writer, but also working for the Cuban public radio, hosting a television program that broadcast sf films, and writing scripts and articles. The David Award made her a significant figure in the sf literary world of Havana and she became the literary advisor of the Oscar Hurtado workshop in the 1980s. It is in that decade that she published all of her sf work. There are two further collections of short stories, Amoroso planeta ["Loving Planet"] (coll 1983) and El abrevadero de los dinosaurios ["The Dinosaurs' Watering Hole"] (coll 1990), and a collection of novelettes, Historias de hadas para adultos ["Fairy Tales for Adults"] (coll 1986). All three collections contain stories that play with the generic limits between sf and Fantasy (see Science Fantasy), and in some cases with genre limits as well.

In 1988 Chaviano published her sf masterpiece, Fábulas de una abuela extraterrestre ["Fables by an Extraterrestrial Grandmother"] (1988), winner of the Berlin Academy of Arts' Anna Seghers International Prize two years later. With this award Chaviano became the first sf writer in Cuba to gain international recognition. Fábulas de una abuela extraterrestre tells the story of three universes that collide in one common reality, which is shared by the three main characters, Ijje, Arlena and Ana; the latter being a young Cuban writer who, unknowingly, is writing the novel as it happens. The novel is without doubt one of the finest samples of sf written in Spanish, and is still recognized as such: in 2003, it was awarded the Premio Internacional de Fantasía los Goliardos (México) ["International Award for Fantasy: The Goliardos"] for its reissue by the Mexican publisher Océano.

Chaviano was translated into English in the anthology Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain (anth 2003 ed Andrea L Bell and Yolanda Molina-Gavilan) with the short story "La Anunciación" ["The Annunciation"]. This story first appeared in Amoroso planeta in 1983, and was also adapted as a screenplay for a yet-to-be-filmed movie production in Cuba in 1990, just before Chaviano left the island. The story retells the myth of Jesus' annunciation to Mary, making the angel Gabriel an Alien who makes love with the young woman. María, far for being abused by the alien, enjoys her sexual experience, breaking with the traditional model of marianismo bestowed upon Hispanic women.

Chaviano has not written sf again since 1988, although she always announces that she will. In the meantime, she promotes Cuban sf through her official webpage and blog. [JCTR]

Daína Chaviano Díaz

born Havana, Cuba: 19 February 1957

works (selected)

nonfiction (selected)

  • "Prólogo" ["Prologue"] in Los papeles de Valencia el Mudo ["The Papers of Valencia el Mudo"] by Óscar Hurtado (La Habana, Cuba: Letras Cubanas, 1983) [pp5-16: pb/]
  • "Para una bibliografía de la ciencia-ficción cubana." ["A Bibliography of Cuban SF"] (La Habana, Cuba: Letras Cubanas, 1988) [pp273-278: pb/]



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