Esmeralda Santiago was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She came to the United States at thirteen, the eldest in a family that would eventually include eleven children. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, she holds a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her books include the memoirs When I Was Puerto Rican, Almost a Woman, and the Turkish Lover, and the novel Conquistadora. The mother of two adult children, she lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband, filmmaker Frank Cantor.