|Born||August 24, 1951|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||October 12, 2013 62) (aged|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Education||B.A.; M.A. English|
|Alma mater||City College of New York|
|Genre||Cuban/American, Latino: fiction and memoirs|
|Notable works||The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989)|
|Notable awards|| Rome Prize (American Academy in Rome) (1985)|
Pulitzer Prize (1990)
Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature (2000)
|Spouse||Lori Marie Carlson|
Oscar Jerome Hijuelos (August 24, 1951 – October 12, 2013) was an American novelist.
Of Cuban descent, during a year-long convalescence from a childhood illness spent in a Connecticut hospital he lost his knowledge of Spanish, his parents' native language.He was educated in New York City, and wrote short stories and advertising copy.
For his second novel, adapted for the movie The Mambo Kings , he became the first Hispanic to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Hijuelos was born in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, to Cuban immigrant parents, Pascual and Magdalena (Torrens) Hijuelos, both from Holguín, Cuba.His father worked as a hotel cook. As a young child, he suffered from acute nephritis after a vacation trip to Cuba with his mother and brother José, and was in St. Luke's Convalescent Hospital, Greenwich, Connecticut for almost a year, eventually recovering. During this long period separated from his Spanish-speaking family, he learned fluent English; he later wrote of this time: "I became estranged from the Spanish language and, therefore, my roots."
He attended Corpus Christi School in Morningside Heights,and public schools, and later Bronx Community College, Lehman College and Manhattan Community College. He studied writing at the City College of New York (B.A., 1975; M.A. in Creative Writing, 1976) under Donald Barthelme, Susan Sontag, William S. Burroughs, Frederic Tuten, and others. Barthelme became his mentor and friend. He practiced various professions, including working for an advertising agency, Transportation Displays Inc., before taking up writing full-time.
Hijuelos started writing short stories and dramas while working in advertising.His first novel, Our House in the Last World, was published in 1983, and won the Rome Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This novel follows the life of a Cuban family in the United States during the 1940s.
His second novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love , received the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was adapted in 1992 into the film The Mambo Kings , starring Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas, and as a musical in 2005.In its theme of the American immigrant experience, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love was similar to many of his works. Michiko Kakutani, reviewing the novel for The New York Times , describes it as "essentially elegiac in tone — a Chekhovian lament for a life of missed connections and misplaced dreams." His autobiography, Thoughts Without Cigarettes, was published in 2011. Bruce Weber, writing in the New York Times, described his style as "fluid prose, sonorous but more earthy than poetic, with a forthright American cadence."
His influences included writers from Cuba and Latin America, including Carlos Fuentes, José Lezama Lima and Gabriel García Márquez.Hijuelos expressed discomfort in his memoir with being pigeon-holed as an ethnic writer. Weber states "Unlike that of many well-known Latin writers, his work was rarely outwardly political."
When "Beautiful Maria of My Soul" was published, he corresponded with author Tom Miller: "I did this reading at Union Square B&N [Barnes & Noble] the other night, with a friend of mine providing music-- it kind of worked pretty well -- but it so happens that I mentioned your book, 'Trading with the Enemy'-- in the context of how charmed I was by the fact that you were carrying MKs ['The Mambo Kings'] with you while traveling through Cuba and that you had met a few folks somewhere (in Santiago?) who claimed to have once heard the MKs -- it happens that I've had similar experiences along the lines of 'And whatever happened to those guys?' as if they really existed (perhaps they did.) In any event, the fact that some folks really believe that the MKs had been around, sort of led me, in a very roundabout way, to the notion that a real Maria has existed all along...."
Oscar Hijuelos' Papers are located at Columbia University Libraries.
Hijuelos taught at Hofstra University and was affiliated with Duke University, where he was a member of the faculty of the Department of English for 6 years before his death.
In addition to the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, Hijuelos received an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award in 1983, the year he published his first novel, Our House in the Last World. In 1985 the novel received the Rome Prize, awarded by the American Academy in Rome. In 2000, he received the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature.In 2003 he received the Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature.
Hijuelos' first marriage ended in divorce. He married writer and editor Lori Marie Carlson on December 12, 1998 in Manhattan.
On October 12, 2013, Oscar Hijuelos collapsed of a heart attack while playing tennis in Manhattan and never regained consciousness.He was 62 years old. He is survived by his second wife.
The tennis courts that Hijuelos died on in Riverside Park, New York were renamed after him.
This article contains information about the literary events and publications of 1990.
American literature is literature predominantly written or produced in English in the United States of America and its preceding colonies. Before the founding of the United States, the Thirteen Colonies on the eastern coast of the present-day United States were heavily influenced by British literature. The American literary tradition thus is part of the broader tradition of English-language literature. A small amount of literature exists in other immigrant languages. Furthermore a rich tradition of oral storytelling exists amongst Native American tribes.
Arch Colson Chipp Whitehead is an American novelist. He is the author of eight novels, including his 1999 debut work, The Intuitionist, and The Underground Railroad (2016), for which he won the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction again in 2020 for The Nickel Boys. He has also published two books of non-fiction. In 2002, he received a MacArthur Genius Grant.
Suzan-Lori Parks is an American playwright, screenwriter, musician and novelist. Her 2001 play Topdog/Underdog won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002; Parks was the first African-American woman to receive the award for drama.
Achy Obejas is a Cuban-American writer and translator focused on personal and national identity issues, living in Oakland, California. She frequently writes on her sexuality and nationality, and has received numerous awards for her creative work. Obejas' stories and poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Fifth Wednesday Journal, TriQuarterly, Another Chicago Magazine and many other publications. Some of her work was originally published in Esto no tiene nombre, a Latina lesbian magazine published and edited by tatiana de la tierra, which gave voice to the Latina lesbian community. Obejas worked as a journalist in Chicago for more than two decades. For several years, she was also a writer in residence at the University of Chicago, University of Hawaii, DePaul University, Wichita State University, and Mills College in Oakland, California. She is currently a writer/editor for Netflix on the bilingual team in the Product Writing department.
The Mambo Kings is a 1992 musical drama film based on the 1989 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos. The film was directed and produced by Arne Glimcher, and stars Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, Cathy Moriarty and Maruschka Detmers. Set in the early 1950s, the story follows Cesar (Assante) and Nestor Castillo (Banderas), brothers and aspiring musicians who find success and stardom after fleeing from Havana, Cuba to New York City to escape danger. The film marks Glimcher's directing debut, and features Banderas in his first English-language role.
Junot Díaz is a Dominican-American writer, creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and was fiction editor at Boston Review. He also serves on the board of advisers for Freedom University, a volunteer organization in Georgia that provides post-secondary instruction to undocumented immigrants. Central to Díaz's work is the immigrant experience, particularly the Latino immigrant experience.
Oscar Benjamin Cintas y Rodriguez, was a prominent sugar and railroad magnate who served as Cuba's ambassador to the United States from 1932 until 1934.
The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1990.
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love is a 1989 novel by Oscar Hijuelos.
Ilan Stavans is a Mexican-American essayist, lexicographer, cultural commentator, translator, short story author, publisher, TV personality. He writes and speaks on American, Hispanic, and Jewish cultures. He is the author of Quixote (2015) and a contributor to the Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2010).
Gustavo Pérez Firmat was born in 1949, Havana, Cuba, and raised in Miami, Florida. He attended Miami-Dade Community College, the University of Miami, and the University of Michigan, where he earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature. He taught at Duke University from 1979 to 1999 and is the David Feinson Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. He serves on the editorial advisory board of Chiricú.
The Casa de las Américas Prize is a literary award given by the Cuban Casa de las Américas. Established in 1959, it is one of Latin America’s oldest and most prestigious literary prizes.
Cristina García is a Cuban-born American journalist and novelist. Her first novel Dreaming in Cuban (1992) was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has since published her novels The Agüero Sisters (1997) and Monkey Hunting (2003), and has edited books of Cuban and other Latin American literature. A Handbook to Luck (2007) follows three children from Cuba, over twenty-six years through sacrifices and forced exiles.
The soundtrack to The Mambo Kings is a solid effort that effectively conveys the atmosphere inherent in the film, which was based on Oscar Hijuelos’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Assembled here is a selection of mambos, rumbas, boleros and cha cha chas performed by stellar artists of the Latin scene including Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Benny Moré, Johnny Pacheco and Arturo Sandoval mixed with well-known performers with roots in the form like Linda Ronstadt and Los Lobos. Besides this, the Mambo All-Stars are a high energy dance band composed of top studio sidemen from New York City and Los Angeles. With only a couple of exceptions, the tracks were cut specially for the film and as such, add a novel, accurately reflecting the Cuban music sound of the 1950s. The 2000 Elektra updated edition adds a remix of Tito Puente's "Ran Kan Kan" by Olga Tañón and a rendition of "Beautiful Maria of My Soul" featuring Antonio Banderas and legendary crooner Compay Segundo of Buena Vista Social Club fame.
Virgil Suárez is a poet and novelist. He is a professor of English at Florida State University. He is one of the leading writers in the Cuban American community, known for his novels including Latin Jazz and Going Under. He has also reviewed books for The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Tallahassee Democrat.
American literature written in Spanish in the United States dates back as 1610 when the Spanish explorer Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá published his epic poem Historia de Nuevo México. He was an early chronicler of the conquest of the Americas and a forerunner of Spanish-language literature in the United States given his focus on the American landscape and the customs of the people. However, it was not until the late 20th century that Spanish language literature written by Americans was regularly published in the United States.
Latino literature is literature written by people of Latin American ancestry, often but not always in English, most notably by Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and Dominican Americans, many of whom were born in the United States. Notable writers include Elizabeth Acevedo, Julia Alvarez, Gloria Anzaldua, Rudolfo Anaya, Giannina Braschi, Julia de Burgos, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Junot Diaz, Christina Garcia, Oscar Hijuelos, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Piri Thomas, among others.
Cuban American literature overlaps with both Cuban literature and American literature, and is also distinct in itself. Its boundaries can blur on close inspection. Some scholars, such as Rodolfo J. Cortina, regard "Cuban American authors" simply as Cubans "who live and write in the United States." Canonical writers include Reinaldo Arenas, Rafael Campo, Nilo Cruz, Daína Chaviano, Carlos Eire, Roberto G. Fernández, Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Cristina García, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, Oscar Hijuelos, Melinda Lopez, Eduardo Machado, Orlando Ricardo Menes, José Martí, Achy Obejas, Ricardo Pau-Llosa, and Virgil Suárez.
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