David Unger

Director, Publishing Certificate Program

Graduate Faculty, MFA in Creative Writing

Main Affiliation

Division of Humanities and the Arts

Additional Departments/Affiliated Programs



North Academic Center




212 650-7925


212 650-7912

Guatemalan writer and translator

David Unger


David Unger is a Guatemalan-born novelist, translator and poet. In 2014 he was awarded Guatemala’s Miguel Angel Asturias National Literature Prize for Lifetime Achievement.


Attended Boston University, 1968-1970
BA, English, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 1973
MFA, Poetry and Translation, Columbia University 1975


The Mastermind. Akashic Books (New York, 2016)
El manipulador. Planeta (Mexico, 2015)
El precio de la fuga. F y G Editores (Guatemala, 2013)
Para mí, eres divina. RandomHouseMondadori (México, 2011)
The Price of Escape. Akashic Books (New York, 2011)
Ni chicha, ni limonada. F y G Editores (Guatemala, 2009). Audio book: Recorded Books, 2010.
Vivir en el maldito trópico, traducido al español por Walter Krochmal (México City: Plaza y Janes, RandomHouseMondadori) 2004. Audio book: Recorded Books 2005; Locus Publishing, Taiwan, 2006 and Yingpan Brother Publishing, China, 2007
Life in the Damn Tropics. (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2002 Paperback, 2004, from Wisconsin University Press.)


“The Naked Maja or Le petite mort” in Guernica Magazine (February 15, 2016),  “La Noche en el Shanghái,” in Deltas de Arenas: Cuentos judíos y árabes (Houston: Literal Press, 2013) “El Padrino” in Puertos Abiertos: Central American Short Stories (México: FCE, 2011)(anthology  edited by Sergio Ramírez Mercado);  In My Eyes, You Are Beautiful, two chapters in MAKE MAG, Winter 2011, The Price of Escape, two chapters in www.Guernicamag.com, March 2011, “El lugar que habitas”, Luvina 52, in October 2008, “La víspera de Passover” in #14 of www.caratula.net, “Sliding By,” in www.Guernicamag.com, September 2006, “Passover Eve,” en KGBBarLit.com, “El Padrino” en Playboy México, Abril 2005; “La Noche en el Shanghái,” in Periplo #7. December 1999; “Floating Free” in River City, Vol.19, #2,  1999; "El inmigrante," in Periplo #4. December 1998; “The Night at the Shanghai” en Promethean, Vol. 27, #1, Fall 1997; "Shabbat Shalom," in Currents from the Dancing River: New Writing By Latinos (New York: Harcourt, Brace),1994;"Canillas de Leche," in Tropical Synagogues: Latin American Jewish Fiction (New York: Holmes and Meiers),1994;"El inmigrante," in Puro Cuento, Vol. 1, #2,1987; "The Immigrant," in Present Tense, Vol. 14, #1, Autumn 1986.

La Casita (México, CIDCLI, 2012) published in English as an e-book in 2014


Once Upon a Time: Traditional Latin American Tales by Rueben Martinez. New York: HarperCollins/Rayo, 2010.
Spring with a Broken Corner by Mario Benedetti (translated with Hardie St. Martin. UNPUBLISHED.
Secret Legacy by Rigoberta Menchú. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2008.
Old Dog by Teresa Cárdenas. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2007.
Letters to My Mother by Teresa Cárdenas. Toronto: Groundwood Press, 2006.
The Honey Jar by Rigoberta Menchú. Toronto: Groundwood Press, 2006.
The Girl from Chimel by Rigoberta Menchú. Toronto: Groundwood Press, 2005.
Me in the Middle by Ana María Machado. Toronto: Groundwood Press, 2002.
Bordes deshilachados/Frayed Edges by Anne Gilman. Matanzas, Cuba: Ediciones Vigia. 2001.
To Be What I Will Be by Silvia Molina. Madrid: Everest, 2001.
The Love You Promised Me by Silvia Molina. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 1999. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize in fiction, 1999.
The Popol Vuh version by Victor Montejo. Toronto: Groundwood Press, 1999.
First Love and Look for my Obituary by Elena Garro. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone, 1997. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize in fiction, 1996.
The Dead Leaves by Bárbara Jacobs. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone, 1993.
Antipoems: New and Selected by Nicanor Parra. New York: New Directions, 1985 (editor and co-translator).
World Alone by Vicente Aleixandre. Boston: Penmaen Press, 1981 (co-translated with Lewis Hyde).
Just Passing Through by Isaac Goldemberg. Hanover, NH: Point of Contact/Ediciones del Norte co-edition, 1981 (co-translated with author).
The Dark Room and Other Poems by Enrique Lihn. New York: New Directions, 1978 (co-translated with Jon Cohen and John Felstiner).

Translations published in journal or anthologies
“Figuraciones” de Javier Mosquera (2014), Guatemala, en http://www.guernicamag.com/fiction/figuraciones/ Traducción, 3 de febrero de 2014

“Trapdoor” by Sergio Ramírez (2008), “The Panther” by Pablo Neruda (2006), and “The Magic Box” by Ana Lidia Vega Serova(2005) in www.Guernicamag.com

Humberto Akabal, Otto-Raúl González in Messengers of The Rain (Toronto: Groundwood Press, 2003)and Golden Handcuffs Review (Summer 2008); “The Fat Man From La Paz” by Gonzalo Lemos in The Fat Man From La Paz: Contemporary Short Stories from Bolivia, New York: Seven Stories, 2000; “The Centerfielder” by Sergio Ramírez in The Picador Book of Latin American Short Stories, ed. by Carlos Fuentes, London: Picador, 1999; Three Mario Benedetti short stories in Blood Pact. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 1997; Seven Roque Dalton poems in The Small Hours of the Night.  Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 1996; Three Ilan Stavan short stories in The One-Handed Pianist. Las Cruces, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1995; "Apaches in La Granja," by Paco Ignacio Taibo in Pyramids of Glass. San Antonio, TX: Corona Press, 1994; "The Censors" by Luisa Valenzuela in Short Shorts, (Godine Press, 1982). Reprinted in Open Doors (North Point Press, 1988), The Censors  (Curbstone Press, 1992), Many Worlds of Literature (Macmillan, 1993),  Global Reading Safari (Nelson, 1993)  Global Voices (Simon & Schuster, 1994, Prentice Hall Literature, Platinum (Prentice Hall, 1998); Translations of Vicente Aleixandre in: A Longing for the Light (New York: Harper & Row, 1979, reprinted by Copper Canyon Press, 1985) and Paris Review.

The Girl in the Treehouse. Limited edition artist's book, with original lithographs by Anne Gilman, 1992.
Neither Caterpillar Nor Butterfly. New York: Es Que Somos Muy Pobres Press, 1986.

Poems included in journals or anthologies
in Paper Dance: 55 Latino Poets (New York: Persea Books) March, 1995; Anthology of Contemporary Latin American Literature (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), 1986; Echad: An Anthology of Latin American Jewish Writers (Marblehead, MA: Micah Publications), 1980; City Magazine (Vol.8); Columbia Review (Vols. 54 & 55); Knock Knock: A Funny Anthology by Serious Writers (New York: Bench Press), 1982; La Nuez (#10-11); Linden Lane (Vol.II,#1); Lost Glove (Vol. 1); Lumen/Avenue A (Vol.1,#1); Machete (Vol.1, #1);  The Maryland Review; Persea (Vol.I, #1); Poetry Now (Vol. IV, #4 & Vol.V, #2); Pound of Flesh; The Portable Lower East Side (Vol. V, #1 & 2); Present Tense (Vol.X, #3); Quarry West (#6 & #13); River Styx (#36); The Raven Chronicles (Vol. 2, #2); Dog Stories (1993); Weid: The Sensibility Review (Vol.14, #1).

Essays or prose
“The Mastermind: An Act of Translation in World Without Borders http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/article/the-mastermind-an-act-of-tra… October 2014

“Ghostwriting Gabo,” www.Guernicamag.com, November 2007 and in Letras Libres, April 2008. Havana Deco, preface,(New York: W.W. Norton), 2007
"Language as a Way to Revisit the Past" in special Latino issue of Review: Latin American Literature and the Arts, January 1997.
"Antonio Machado's Childhood Memory" in Luna, Luna: Creative Writing Idea from Spanish and Latino Literature. New York: Teachers & Writers Press, 1997
"It's Dominican Time" in Punto 7 Review. Vol. 3, #1, Fall 1996.
"Roots: A Cross-Cultural Context" in Latino Voices Brookfield, CT: The Millbrook Press, 1994.
"My High School English Teacher" in Educating the Imagination. New York: Teachers & Writers Press, 1994.
"The Archetypal Misfit," New York Times Book Review (Letter), November 28, 1993.
"Desenterrando el pasado," Diario 16, 9 October 1993.
"La Feria de Guadalajara," Más Magazine, September 1992.
"Guadalajara: You Shoulda Been There," Small Press, Spring 1992.
"Interview with Oscar Hijuelos," New York Newsday, November 18, 1991.
"Setting the Stage for SILAR," Publishers Weekly, Vol. 238, #3, January 18, 1991.
"Cummington Community of the Arts," Poets & Writers, Vol. 18, #5, September/October 1990.
"Old Friends Say Goodbye", New York Newsday, June 6, 1990.
"Revisiting the Past...," Vista Magazine, Vol.4, #18, December 31, 1988.
"Central American Writers Meet Amid Death Squads," New York Times Book Review, August 7, 1988.
"Early History: Romans and Visigoths," "Moorish Spain," "The Empire," and "The Civil War and the Franco Regime," in Spain: An Insight                                                                     

The Old Man Who Read Love Stories by Luis Sepúlveda in The New York Times Book Review, May 1, 1994; The Ships by Roberto Quesada, in The Bloomsbury Review, March/April 1993; Across the Wire by Luis Alberto Urrea, in NYTBR, February 21, 1993; Zapata Rose in 1992 by Gary D. Keller, in NYTBR, November 29, 1992; High Cotton by Darryl Pinckney, in Multicultural Review, June 1992; All Backs Were Turned by Marek Hlasko, in Multicultural Review, April 1992;MAMista by Len Deighton, in New York Newsday, August 14, 1991; An Explanation of the Birds by Antonio Lobo Antunes, in NYTBR, August 12, 1991; The Vision of Elena Silves by Nicholas Shakespeare, in NYTBR, January 20, 1991;Migrant Souls by Arturo Islas, in NYTBR, May 20, 1990; Human Mourning by José Revueltas, in NYTBR, February 25, 1990; And We Sold the Rain: Contemporary Fiction From Central America, edited by Rosario Santos, in NYTBR, January 7, 1990; Testimony: The Death of a Guatemalan Village by Victor Montejo in Present Tense, Vol. 15, #4, May/June 1988; Five Meters of Poems by Carlos Oquendo de Amat in Review: Latin American Literature and Arts, Vol. 37, June 1987.

2014   Guatemala’s Miguel Angel Asturias National Literature Prize for Lifetime Achievement
2013   La Casita chosen among the 25 most important children’s books by Latinos
2000   Finalist for the IMPAC Prize for translating Silvia Molina’s    The Love You Promise Me 
2000   Writers of the Americas, Translation Workshop, Havana, Cuba
1998   Poetry Prize, Ivri-Nasawi Institute.
1991   Recipient of the Manhattan Borough President’s "Award for Excellence in the Arts"
1990   Listed in Hispanic Writers (Chicago: Gale Research)
1990   Writer-in-residence, Cummington Community of the Arts
1989   Writer-in-residence, Cummington Community of the Arts
1989   Spanish Government Tourist Board Award for writing in the Spain: An Insight Guide APA Pub.
1983   Translation Grant: New York State Council on the Arts
1981   Translation Grant: New York State Council on the Arts

Research Interests

Translation, Latin American Fiction and Poetry. World Literature.