Judith Ortiz Cofer Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

To what purposes does Judith Ortiz Cofer use climate in her works?

Discuss the contrasting personalities of Marisol’s parents in The Line of the Sun. Does this contrast point to more than the differences between two people?

How do the people who live in El Building view the members of the Jewish population who lived in the neighborhood before the Puerto Ricans arrived?

What are the most salient generational differences present in Ortiz Cofer’s writing?

What are the most significant gender differences that you detect in her writing?

Discuss the role personal isolation plays in what you have read by Ortiz Cofer.

How does Ortiz Cofer use humor in her writing both to depict character and to control tension?

Discuss the attitudes toward education that she reveals in characters from different generations.

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Judith Ortiz Cofer (ohr-TEEZ KOH-fur) is known for blurring the lines between genres and, in particular, mixing poetry with prose. Many of her works, such as The Year of Our Revolution, The Latin Deli, and Silent Dancing, feature a combination of genres including poetry, memoir, personal essay, creative nonfiction, and fiction. She has also written novels, including The Line of the Sun (1989) and The Meaning of Consuelo (2003), and has published essays, poems, short stories and other works in dozens of anthologies, literary magazines, and journals. Ortiz Cofer is not significantly better known for any single genre, but rather she has received high praise in a multitude of genres—an unusual characteristic among writers. In readings, she frequently presents works in more than one genre. In interviews, though, she often expresses the greatest passion for poetry from among the many genres in which she works.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Judith Ortiz Cofer is one of the first Puerto Rican writers to gain national prominence, although her generation of American writers has come to include many significant and popular Latino authors. Her works have received numerous awards, including a Pushcart Prize for nonfiction (1989), a PEN/Martha Albrand Special Citation for nonfiction (1991), an Ainsfield-Wolf Book Award for The Latin Deli (1994), a Pura Belpré Medal from the American Library Association (1995), a Paterson Book Prize (1998) for The Year of Our Revolution, and an Americas Award (2003) for The Meaning of Consuelo. In addition, her works have been nominated for awards such as the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. Many of her writings have been translated into Spanish and other languages. Her work is widely anthologized and used in classrooms and as selections for reading programs across the country.

Ortiz Cofer is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Georgia Council for the Arts. In 2007, Lehman University in New York bestowed on her an honorary doctorate of letters. Beyond her work as a writer, she is also well respected for her work as a teacher of creative writing and has received numerous teaching awards. In 2010, she was inducted in the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Acosta-Belén, Edna. “A MELUS Interview: Judith Ortiz Cofer.” MELUS 18, no. 3 (Fall, 1993): 83-97.

Bost, Suzanne. “Transgressing Borders: Puerto Rican and Latina Mestizaje.” MELUS 25, no. 2 (Summer, 2000): 187-211. Bost analyzes the work of four Latina writers, including Ortiz Cofer, regarding their depiction of racial color and its impact on multicultural identity.

Faymonville, Carment. “New Transnational Identities in Judith Ortiz Cofer’s Autobiographical Fiction.” MELUS 26, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 129-158. Argues that Ortiz Cofer’s depiction of the immigrant experience as not being rooted in a single dominant culture is unique and complex.

Kanellos, Nicolas, ed. The Hispanic American Almanac: A Reference Work on Hispanics in the United States. 3d ed. Detroit: Gale Group, 1993. Includes a brief but useful sketch of the writer and her work.

Ortiz Cofer, Judith “Puerto Rican Literature in Georgia? An Interview with Judith Ortiz Cofer.” Interview by Rafael Ocasio. The Kenyon Review 14, no. 4 (Fall, 1992): 43-50.