Cristina Peri Rossi knew she wanted to be a writer from a very young age. In fact, she made this notion very clear during one of her family’s Sunday dinners when she stood up on a chair and shouted it to the family. They, of course, just laughed. Women born in 1941 in a small country like Uruguay were not destined to be great writers, her uncle told her. Luckily, that same uncle had an enormous library of books that intrigued Peri Rossi to become just that.

Fascinated by everything she saw, Peri Rossi spent the next few years of her childhood reading every book her uncle’s library had to offer – from boundless biology books to Sigmund Freud and Sylvia Plath, she read it all. However, the young scholar’s thirst for knowledge could not be quenched with only one source. She also turned to her mother, who not only introduced her to various literature, but also music, art, and science. As Peri Rossi grew older, she became a regular of the National Library in Montevideo, as well as an explorer of the bohemian world that fueled her desire to become a successful writer.

After completing her studies in biology and comparative literature, Peri Rossi began teaching literature and writing her own material. She published her first book, Vivendo: Relatos, in 1963 and followed up with Los Museos Abandonados (Abandoned Museums) in 1968, for which she won the Arca Publishers Prize for Young Authors. Although Peri Rossi received praise in the literary world, the government quickly condemned her work for its leftist ideologies and strong political criticism. In 1969, Peri Rossi wrote El Libro de mis Primos (My Cousins’ Book), a novel that dealt with conflicts between the growing military oppressions and guerilla movements such as the Movement of National Liberation. The novel, once again, increased Peri Rossi’s popularity and caught the attention of Julio Cortázar, whom she later worked with extensively. Within a short period of time, Peri Rossi became one of the very few females associated with the Latin American literature of the 1960s and the 1970s.

The growing military oppression forced Peri Rossi to go into exile to Spain, shortly before the 1973 coup d’état that put Uruguay under severe dictatorship until 1985. While in exile, Peri Rossi continued to write and criticize the government of her home country, while also siding with the anti-franquist movement. As a result of the revocation of her Uruguayan citizenship and visa problems in Spain, the author had to go into exile once again in 1974, this time to France. By the end of that year, she returned to Spain and obtained a citizenship by marrying a Spaniard, whom she divorced soon after.

Since the return to Spain, Peri Rossi has resided in Barcelona and continued her career as a poetess, novelist, essayist, translator, and journalist. Considered as one of the leading female authors of Hispanic literature, Peri Rossi has continued to write prolifically, publishing over 40 novels, essays, translations, short stories and poetry collections. Although she addresses various themes in her literature, the most prominent topics tend to be that of political and social injustices, love, passion, feminism, sexuality, and gender studies. Along with her literary work, Peri Rossi also contributes columns to several newspapers in Spain, and until recently hosted a political commentary show on Catalunya Ràdio.