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Meet Poet, Novelist and this year’s 21st Century Award Recipient, Erika Sanchez

In addition to her 2017 book release and finalist for the National Book Award, the poet, essayist and novelist will be adding 21st Century Award recipient to her resume.  

“My work really centers in Chicago,” Sanchez explained. “So I’m really honored to be recognized by the city.”
To our minds, being acknowledged by NPR as “a standout” and just about every other heavy-hitting publication out there, is a good indicator you’ve made it – but after talking with the author herself, its clear to us she’s just getting started.
About the Author and Her Work
“I’ve been writing poetry since I was 12. It’s been my first love. But I also really loved reading fiction.” I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was published in 2017 and debuted the poet and essayist as a YA novelist. The book has autobiographical elements, exploring what it was like to be the daughter of an undocumented Mexican American family – steeped in faith, work, grief and expectation. “I felt a sense of responsibility to write a book like this for girls of color,” Sanchez explained. “A piece of literature for kids like me.”

A Mission or a Purpose?

“I’ve always loved words,” Sanchez started. “And writing was a cheap way to express myself – because all I ever needed was a pen and a paper.” But if you asked her if her work was more of a passion or a mission – she would admittedly say ‘both.’
“I think its really important to have kids see themselves in books,” she explained.  “Growing up, I read a lot about white kids. It was confusing to read about kids that weren’t like me.”

What’s Next?

Before closing the interview, we had to know. What was next for the poet-gone-novelist? “I’m working on a new book,” she shared. “It should be finished in the next few months – and is called Crying In the Bathroom.” As for her thoughts on the upcoming Carl Sandberg Literary Awards Dinner, Sanchez beamed “I’m just looking forward to interacting with so many amazing writers in the city.  There are so many.”
Erika Sanchez will receive the 21st Century Award for her outstanding recent achievements at this year’s Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner.  We look forward to honoring her, amongst her community and peers for the amazing contribution she’s made to the city, the Library and for her role in representing the immigrant population. To learn more about the Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner, click here. To learn more about I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter – a book that became an instant New York Times bestseller, click here. To stay up-to-date with the author herself, follow her on Twitter.