© Copyright 2011 John Dyer
Watching Latino List Documentary with one of my favorite authors, Sandra Cisneros. Inspirational lady, shows us it is okay to be a Chingona, to be a strong woman, educated, and promoting self efficacy.
An email from Knopf just alerted me that San Antonio’s Sandra Cisneros will release Have You Seen Marie on Oct. 8 (or Oct. 2, if you would rather believe their website.) It’s described as “a fable for grown-ups about a 53-year-old woman whose grief over the death of her mother is made less painful by helping to search for her friend’s missing cat” and will boast 47 color illustrations by Ester Hernandez.
"There is a need for spaces where you can get this kind of literature... Take an author like Sandra Cisneros, a mujer who's published by Random House. It's great to have someone like her, but it's not the norm. When you realize that some voices are not receiving the same attention or don't have as big a presence, it becomes even more relevant to have a place for Chicano and Chicana literature, a place that is also for African American literature, for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender literature, for Native American literature."
I read two brilliantly written books this past month. I recommend them both to anyone who loves good reading. They are Caramelo and Women Hollering Creek, by Sandra Cisneros.
I invite you to take on as your summer reading the astonishingly lengthy list of books that have been removed from the Tucson public school system as part of this wholesale elimination of the Mexican-American studies curriculum. The authors and editors include Isabel Allende, Junot Díaz, Jonathan Kozol, Rudolfo Anaya, bell hooks, Sandra Cisneros, James Baldwin, Howard Zinn, Rodolfo Acuña, Ronald Takaki, Jerome Skolnick and Gloria Anzaldúa. Even Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Shakespeare's The Tempest received the hatchet.
Sandra Cisneros (left) bows to Carlos Fuentes as she gives him an award from the San Antonio Public Library Foundation on Oct. 21, 2005. (Photo: Toby Jorrin)
One of three songs I wrote while a graduate student on the stunning poetry of Sandra Cisneros. Performed here by Soprano Jennifer Goltz with a student ensemble from the University of Michigan.
The Macondo Workshop, a weeklong master's class for fiction writers, poets, journalists, screenwriters and scholars, convenes each summer.
Though her mother likes to think she spawned the writer, Sandra Cisneros says she learned storytelling from her father, a Mexican national.
Her works have not only left their mark among academics, but also in the lives of many readers. The House on Mango Street, Woman Hollering Creek, and her long-awaited novel Caramelo masterfully deliver her own voice and tell of a meaningful part of America's history.
Temerosa y esc?ptica de c?mo ser? recibida en M?xico, publica Caramelo, novela que aborda la odisea de una familia mexicanoestadounidense
"The book saved me from the sadness. Because you can be extremely heartbroken and write about something heartbreaking, but if you stay with it long enough, it will bless you with light. "
"Mango Street" has become a staple of libraries, high schools, and universities and is a popular selection of citywide reading programs. But that it was an overnight success is a myth...
"I was guided by my ancestors. I was writing for my community, my father... everyone. I feel this was what I was meant to do, to serve whatever my community is. I can take these stories and put them out there and then they become universal and magical."
This fall Random House imprints Vintage and Knopf hold sway over the simultaneous English and Spanish release of paperback titles from two of the biggest names in Latino and Latin American literature: Sandra Cisneros and Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez.
In a tiny voice, perched atop mauve high-heel boots, Sandra Cisneros took an overflowing auditorium for a ride [at a Great Salt Lake Book Festival performance].
The best-selling author reflects on nature, place and identity?in her life and her work.
"As a poet, I'm especially sensitive to the power a word has,"Cisneros said. "It's not a word, it's a way of looking at the world. It's a way of looking at meaning."
"I liked to read everything, but I especially liked stories of times that were different than my own. Maybe it was a sort of escapism, I don?t know. But, I especially liked to read books that were in a sort of curious English ? British English. I liked to read books that were written a hundred years before me or more ? of course, those were translated, so they sounded really weird and bizarre. "
The memories that Cisneros offers in this book sometimes wrinkle the nose and scorch the palate, and the author proves superb at assembling these components of memories and at evoking the sensations of the past in their full complexity.
A cheerful, fizzy novel whose heroine and narrator joins her large Mexican-American family in driving from Chicago to Mexico City and back every summer; colorful generalizations abound concerning the borders of language and culture that they cross when they must.
Like Eduardo Galeano, John Dos Passos and John Steinbeck, Cisneros writes along the borders where the novel and social history intersect.... In this lovingly told and poetic novel, she uses the storytelling art to give these voiceless ones a voice, and to find the border to the past, imbuing the struggles of her family and her countries with the richness of myth.
...the book not only depicts the story of the Reyes clan but also breaks the boundaries of fiction to become a cultural history of a people.
"I felt like throwing the book away several times. But don't think I would have. Every book takes you to the terror, that terrible place of possible failure."
The real triumph of Caramelo is its author's ability to paint the big picture while capturing the trifles of everyday life, giving them profound and tender meaning.
Cisneros' prose is exuberant; the book pulses with energy... This is a major addition to Mexican-American literature.
In conversation, Cisneros is eloquent and exuberant. Her readings border on performance art, incorporating elements of song, poetry, whatever moves her.
This swirling dinner-table collection of family tales is worthy of the anticipation that's built up over the 18 years since Cisneros wrote The House on Mango Street.
Novels, Cisneros proclaims, represent her political side. They're written "to change people's minds," she says...
Author Sandra Cisneros' high-pitched voice lends itself perfectly to that of a young girl, and her dramatic reading Sunday evening at the opening of the 19th annual Miami Book Fair brought listeners squarely into the head of the young narrator of her new novel, Caramelo.
Now that I have lived in San Antonio for almost 10 years (about as long as it took Cisneros to write her latest novel, Caramelo) , I think I am beginning to understand the diverse literary culture centered around her in this city.
Surrounded by fans, some of whom had come from as far away as Fort Worth and Corpus Christi to meet her, Cisneros said later that she always has mixed feelings returning to Austin, where she had a hard time making a living.
[Caramelo] grew out of her desire to honor her father as he approached the end of his life (he died in 1997) by telling his story. It is essentially the tale of a Mexican who is not unlike the millions of other immigrants to this country whose stories go untold.
...a jubilant return... with fluid, flamboyant writing.
Cisneros has written an exquisite work of art, a rebozo of words and imagination, woven out of intricate patterns of fact and fiction; a tattered security blanket embracing familial love and national pride.
The opening of her new novel... may seem quintessentially American and it is, if your notion of what constitutes American is more NAFTA than Norman Rockwell.
The big book has an additional purpose: It is her response to the xenophobia and violence she sees in American culture.
Sandra Cisneros grew up in Chicago, but knew one day it was time to leave.
A glorious book, Caramelo is crowded with the souvenirs and memories of the dramas of everyday life marriages, births, celebrations, lusts, displacements, and deaths like an oversized family album, intimate as well as universal. In it, Sandra Cisneros reminds us of an important lesson about humanity: "Life was cruel. And hilarious all at once."
Loosely based on the author's own Mexican-American family, the book not only depicts the story of the Reyes clan but also breaks the boundaries of fiction to become a cultural history of a people. Poems, vignettes, footnotes, and historical and pop cultural references all have a place in this impressive work.
"I didn't think I would be writing a history book."
At the heart of Sandra Cisneros's second novel... are the rhythms of life and love, caught in prose that bursts upon the senses. As the Reyes family journey between Mexico and the U.S., the most mundane of scenes springs to life. Skipping between narrative and dialogue, truth and imagination, Cisneros's heroine unravels her family history. Bottom line: rich and bittersweet.
Cisneros is best known for the episodic short novel The House on Mango Street and the story collection Woman Hollering Creek. With Caramelo she delivers on the promise of those earlier books, producing a multigenerational family saga that represents a major and I think permanent contribution to Mexican-American literature.
Caramelo is a novel worthy of the tremendous anticipation that's built up [around it]. It's a swirling dinner-table collection of family tales, full of tears and laughter. But what's most delightful and daring is the banter between the adult narrator and the voice of her old grandmother, arguing about these tales. It's a charming, impossible conversation that points toward Lala's eventual appreciation for the Awful Grandmother and particularly for the healing function of family legends. This is a novel about the conciliatory power of stories.
Waiting for this internationally acclaimed author to publish her first novel since 1984's best-selling The House on Mango Street has been as difficult as being squished into the family sedan with a dozen relatives.
Like Lala Reyes, the storyteller in Caramelo, Cisneros loops her caramelo rebozo across her leather jacket and ventures out onto Michigan Avenue.
Ten years in the making, Sandra Cisneros's second novel bursts from between its covers with all the energy of a riotous family fiesta.
This sensual, earthy saga engages the senses and captivates the imagination. Ms. Cisneros skillfully uses the syntax and double-barreled speech patterns of bilingual Mexican-Americans, seasoning her stories with just enough but not too many Spanish words to give her spirited narrative and dialogue an authentic sound and rhythm: "That's how we are, we mexicanas, puro coraje y pasión."
Hands in constant motion as she talks, Cisneros radiates passion for her work, her political and literary causes, her responsibilities as a writer.
Could this smart, visionary, linguistically innovative writer possibly fulfill our expectations? I wondered... She has, many times over. And now it's up to reviewers to find the words with which to sing this novel's praises.
The country's leading Latina author makes a sweet return with Caramelo, her first novel in nearly twenty years.
When told about how pivotal her new novel, Caramelo, might be for her literary reputation and in particular, about her publisher's ambitions for it Sandra Cisneros says only, "Yikes."
...this chronicle of a family, woven back and foth in time, becomes a testimonio to a profound sense of humanity...
Cisneros' exuberant prose tickles the senses with riotous catalogs of sights, scents, flavors and sounds. Some chapters have musical accompaniments; others have footnotes; most are laced with Spanish... Caramelo is a warm and generous story to wrap yourself up in.
Caramelo, like the confection that comes to mind, is smooth and sweet and thick. The new novel by acclaimed author Sandra Cisneros steps deftly through the generations of a Mexican-American family, recounting joy and tragedy with clarity and poignancy... Each character is three-dimensional and everything from the beauty of the Oaxacan landscape to the anxiety of immigration is rendered in fine, rich detail.
Sandra Cisneros has written a joyful, fizzy American novel, a deliciously subversive reminder that 'American' applies to plenty of territory beyond the borders of the United States.
Caramelo is Mango Street blown up to the big screen.
A revealing interview with Caramelo's Spanish translator, Liliana Valenzuela.
It has been nearly 20 years since Sandra Cisneros' acclaimed first novel, The House on Mango Street, a coming-of-age story told in poetic vignettes, brought her unique voice and the Chicana experience to millions of American readers.
For her eagerly anticipated fictional follow-up to 1984's The House on Mango Street, the San Antonio writer spent a decade crafting a Mexican American family epic that glides along effortlessly on the strength of its appeal to the senses.
You have to go slowly, like you'd suck on a caramel. It's too bad this is a fall release, because it's the ideal book to read poolside on a long vacation, closing your eyes now and then to imagine you're in Acapulco with the Reyeses, the golden Mexican sun shining on your face.
Caramelo,published simultaneously in Spanish and lovingly, passionately woven from dust and glory, is a sweeping family history that somehow manages to interlace not just the Reyeses those conjurers, enticers and troublemakers but also all the rest of us, the good and bad together, the bitter and, of course, the sweet.
Sandra Cisneros talks like she writes, which means that, whether you're reading her new novel, Caramelo, or speaking to her in person, you're not going to slide routinely from Point A to Point B and onward in predictable order.
Oprah said she's suspending her book club because she's having trouble finding a novel to savor and share. This is exactly what she's looking for.
"We know these stories, President Bush doesn't. For all his claiming to know Mexican culture, he knows nothing. So I need to write this down so President Bush can say, 'You know what, this is some American history I don't know!' "
Author Sandra Cisneros gives a female voice to her complex Latino family tale.
While Caramelo is clearly a groundbreaking novel in English because of its narrative style and mixing of cultural content, special care had to be given to its translation. For that task Cisneros chose Liliana Valenzuela, who had been a creative writing student of hers in the late 1980s. "I really lobbied for her to do this translation," says Cisneros. "She was familiar with my writing style, and she also writes fiction and poetry it took her five months, she did it like a marathon runner."
Vibrant and big-hearted like Lala herself, Cisneros's prose captures both the personal intimacies and the larger-than-life atmosphere of the Reyes family's passionate saga.
Her new book. Her new look.
Put away those trashy summer novels. These seven books are a breath of literary fresh air.
Cisneros is arguably the writer who put Mexican-American culture on the map, and the appearance of her second novel after nearly 20 years... will be a major literary event.
The author's gorgeous prose, on-a-dime turns of phrase, and sumptuous scene-setting make this an unforgettable read.
© 2002 by The Curators on the University of Missouri. All rights reserved
Not only is Cisneros' content bold, but her use of language is equally refreshing. Exquisite in its simplicity, her voice draws from her native Spanish, from bedroom banter, and occasionally from the gutter. Yet it is always poetic, founded upon vivid imagery, subtle rhythm and musical sounds.
"There are many Latino writers as talented as I am, but because we are published through small presses our books don't count. We are still the illegal aliens of the literary world."