Sandra as Good Witch at Macondo gala
© Copyright 2011 Sandra Cisneros
I was born in Chicago in 1954, the third child and only daughter in a family of seven children. I studied at Loyola University of Chicago (B.A. English 1976) and the University of Iowa (M.F.A. Creative Writing 1978).
I've worked as a teacher and counselor to high-school dropouts, as an artist-in-the schools where I taught creative writing at every level except first grade and pre-school, a college recruiter, an arts administrator, and as a visiting writer at a number of universities including the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
My books include a chapbook of poetry, Bad Boys (Mango Press 1980); two full-length poetry books, My Wicked Wicked Ways (Third Woman 1987, Random House 1992) and Loose Woman (Alfred A. Knopf 1994); a collection of stories, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories (Random House l991); a children's book, Hairs/Pelitos (Alfred A. Knopf 1994); and two novels, The House on Mango Street (Vintage 1991) and Caramelo (Knopf 2002). Vintage Cisneros, published in 2003, is a compilation of selections from my works.
My most recent book, Have You Seen Marie?, a picture book for grown-ups, was published by Knopf in the autumn of 2012.
I'm currently at work on several projects, including a collection of fiction titled Infinito; a children's book, Bravo, Bruno; and a book about writing titled Writing in My Pajamas.
The House on Mango Street, first published in 1984, won the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award in 1985, and is required reading in middle schools, high schools, and universities across the country. It has sold over two million copies since its initial publication and is still selling strongly. 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of The House on Mango Street in the United States, and I will be traveling to 20 cities to celebrate with my readers. If youíd like to see if a city near you is on my tour, please refer to the scheduled appearances section of this site.
Caramelo was selected as notable book of the year by several journals including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, and the Seattle Times. In 2005 Caramelo was awarded the Premio Napoli and was short-listed for the Dublin International IMPAC Award. It was also nominated for the Orange Prize in England.
Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories was awarded the PEN Center West Award for Best Fiction of l99l, the Quality Paperback Book Club New Voices Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Lannan Foundation Literary Award, and was selected as a noteworthy book of the year by The New York Times and The American Library Journal, and nominated Best Book of Fiction for l99l by The Los Angeles Times.
Loose Woman won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers' Award.
In 1995, I was awarded the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and I subsequently organized the Latino MacArthur Fellows — Los MacArturos — into a reunion focusing on community outreach. In 2003 I was awarded the Texas Medal of the Arts. I've received many other honors, including an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Loyola University, Chicago, 2002; an honorary Doctor of Letters from the State University of New York at Purchase, l993; two National Endowment of the Arts Fellowships for fiction and poetry, l988, l982; the Roberta Holloway Lectureship at the University of California, Berkeley, l988; the Chicano Short Story Award from the University of Arizona, l986; the Texas Institute of Letters Dobie-Paisano Fellowship, l984; and an Illinois Artists Grant, l984.
My books have been translated into over a dozen languages, including Spanish, Galician, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Norwegian, Japanese, Chinese, Turkish, and, most recently, into Greek, Iranian, Thai, and Serbo-Croatian.
I am the president and founder of the Macondo Foundation, an association of socially engaged writers working to advance creativity, foster generosity, and honor our communities; and the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation, a grant-giving institution serving Texas writers. I'm also Writer-in-Residence at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.
My house is no longer violet because the sun faded it from violet to blue after a few years. We painted it Mexican-pink so it can fade into pink, then built my office in the backyard and painted it Mexican-marigold. The colors make me happy.
I live with many creatures little and large in San Antonio, Texas.