Alicia Yáñez Cossío

Alicia Yáñez Cossío (Quito, 10 December 1929) is perhaps Ecuador’s most famous woman writer on the world scene. A trained journalist, she has primarily published fiction and poetry. She has won several international and national awards.

Yáñez Cossío came from a large family, with ten siblings. She inherited her writing talents from her father, an engineer and frustrated novelist. Her mother recognized Alicia’s skills early on and encouraged her development as a poet. After high school, she studied journalism on a scholarship, at the University of Madrid. In the early 1950s, she married Luis Campos Martínez, a Cuban with whom she had five children. They lived on the island until shortly after the triumph of the Revolution. They moved to Quito where she taught in private schools until 1983.

Yáñez Cossío continued to publish poetry, but wanted to try her hand at writing novels. Her first manuscript, Bruna, Soroche y los tíos, won the National Novel Contest, sponsored by the El Universo newspaper of Guayaquil (1971). Slowly Yáñez Cassío’s career found footing and her fame grew. In 1996, she won Mexico’s prestigious Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize, and in 2008 she was honored by homeland with the Premio Eugenio Espejo for her lifetime of work in literature.

In her works, AliciaYáñez Cossío examines the roles women in Ecuadorian and Latin American society. Her literary feminism has been a topic of numerous scholarly articles in both Spanish and English. Her role in the development of the science fiction genre in Ecuador is also recognized. Besides poetry, novels and short stories, Ms. Yáñez also writes books on teaching literature and creative writing to youth. Her works have been translated into English and Italian.

Samples of her work available in English, online include (live links):

The first chapter from her novel, Bruna and Her Sisters in the Sleeping City (Original title: Bruna, soroche y los tíos, Northwestern University Press, 1999, translated by Kenneth Wishnia, via Google Books)

The short story, “The Mayor’s Wife,” from Fire from the Andes: Short Fiction by Women from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. Edited by Susan E Benner and Kathy S Leonard (University of New Mexico Press, 1998).

The short story, “The IWM 1000,” included in The Big Book of Science Fiction. Edited by Jeff VanderMeer and Ann Vandermeer (Penguin Random House, 2016).

Published in English are the following (list includes links to

Bruna and Her Sisters in the Sleeping City

The Potbellied Virgin

Beyond the Islands

Additional Selections of Her Work in the Following (not online):

Twentieth-century Ecuadorian Narrative: New Readings in the Context of the Americas, by Kenneth J. Wishnia (Bucknell University Press, 1999).

The short story, “Sabotage,” in Latin American Writers: Thirty Stories. Edited by Gabriella Ibieta (St. Martin’s Press, 1993).

Yánez Cassío’s yet-to-be-translated works include:


* El beso y otras fricciones (short stories) (1974)

* Yo vendo unos ojos negros (novel) (1979)

* La casa del sano placer (novel) (1989)

* El Cristo feo (novel) (1995)

* Aprendiendo a morir (novel) (1997)

* Relatos cubanos (short stories) (1998)


* Luciolas (1949)

* De la sangre y el tiempo (1964)

* Poesía (1974)


* Hacia el Quito de ayer (1951)

Literary Criticism (live links):

A study of selected themes in the feminist novels of Alicia Yanez Cossio, by Morgan Dane Boyles, PhD, Texas Tech University.

Translating Alicia Yánez Cossío’s “Beyond the Islands”: Cultural Context in a Galápagos Novel, presentation by Amala Gladhart, PhD, University of Oregon.

Padding the Virgin’s Belly Articulations of Gender and Memory in Alicia Yáñez Cossío’s ” La cofradía del mullo del vestido de la Virgen Pipona, by Amala Gladhart, PhD, University of Oregon (via Dialnet, account required).

An Embattled Society: Orality versus Writing in Alicia Yanez Cossio’s “La cofradia del mullo del vestido de la Virgen Pipona,” by Dick Gerdes, Latin American Literary Review (via Jstor, account required).

Additional Literary Analysis (not available online):

Female Representation and Feminine Mystique in Alicia Yanez Cossio’s “La mujer es un mito,” by Ute Margaret Saine, PhD, in Letras Femeninas (volume 26, number 1/2: 63-79).

Biography by Lorraine Caputo

Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer whose literary works appear in English and Spanish in over 100 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia; 11 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017); and 18 anthologies. In March 2011, the Canadian Parliament Poet Laureate chose her verse as poem of the month. Caputo also has done more than 200 literary readings from Alaska to Patagonia, and is a prize-winning slam poet. Caputo was assistant editor and translator for the online arts journal, Australian Latino Review. She has translated the poetry of Cristina Rodríguez Cabral (Uruguay), Diana Vallejo (Honduras), Ana Bergareche (Spain-Mexico), Dolores Herrera (Galápagos), among other writers. You can follow Lorraine on her Facebook page, and on her blog,