Lyn Di Iorio is a professor at The City College of New York and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She grew up in Puerto Rico. Her mother’s family members signed the constitution of Puerto Rico. Her father was a half-Italian half-Hungarian Jewish New Yorker. Lyn came to the Mainland to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Harvard University, and later acquired a master’s degree from Stanford University’s Creative Writing Program, and a Ph.D. in English literature from The University of California at Berkeley. She also worked as a journalist and translator while trying—and mostly failing—to live on the wild side.
Lyn first became aware of the Afro-Caribbean religio-magical system of Palo Monte when she visited a Santero’s house in Puerto Rico shortly after her father’s death. The Santero offered a reading with one of the divining tools of Santería—a syncretic Cuban religion mixing Yoruba beliefs and Catholicism. Afterwards, on the grassy ground of a stairwell, Lyn saw a black cauldron. She asked the Santero what was in it. He responded “el muerto”—“the dead one.” At that point, Lyn judged it wise not to ask more questions. Later, she learned that the bones and skulls of those who died violent deaths are often housed in cauldrons so that their angry spirits can be manipulated into carrying out the work of the Palero, the master of the cauldron. The idea of a spirit becoming aware of itself took hold of Lyn. She learned that Palo Monte stems from the Bantu-speaking peoples of west central Africa who were taken to Cuba as slaves. It was a common belief system of runaway slaves in the Caribbean bush, and its fieriness helped spur resistance to slavery. Lyn is the first person to publish fiction in English about this little known and fascinating belief system.
At the Graduate Center and CCNY, Lyn teaches Caribbean literature and creative writing, as well as magical realism and Gothic literature. Prior to Outside the Bones, Lyn published scholarship on Latino literature, notably a book called Killing Spanish, and wrote short stories. Her short story “Queen of Colomer” was shortlisted by Robert Olen Butler for the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner short story award, and the first two chapters of the novel received an honorable mention in the 2009 New Millennium Writings Awards Contest.
Lyn is at work on a second novel called The Sound of Falling Darkness. It features a heroine with bad, not to say dark, habits. In addition to her mad literary stylings, Lyn is married to Xavier, whose advances she spurned in high school in Puerto Rico only to succumb to them more than twenty years later in New York.