A Puerto Rican short story writer, essayist, young adult novelist, and poet, she is known for such works of creative nonfiction as the 1990 memoir, The Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood. Her other notable works include The Line of the Sun and The Latin Deli.
She frequently traveled between Puerto Rico and New Jersey before moving to Atlanta, Georgia during her high school years. She subsequently graduated from Augusta College with a Bachelor's degree in English.
She received her graduate degree in English from Florida Atlantic University.
Her style of writing was based on oral narrative and was largely inspired by her Puerto Rican grandmother's superb storytelling ability.
Her story, The Latin Deli, won the 1994 O. Henry Prize. Cofer was the first Hispanic author to receive this honor.