Sandra Cisneros Is Getting The Honor She Deserves For Her Impact On International Literature
Mexican-American writer Sandra Cisneros is widely regarded as one of the most influential novelists of her time. Works like “The House on Mango Street” and “Woman Hollering Creek” are celebrated and considered some of the most important pieces of contemporary literature. For her great impact on writing, Cisneros is set to be the recipient of the prestigious PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature on February 26 at the New York University Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York.
Sandra Cisneros’s stories of working-class people and the Mexican-American experience has made her one of the most celebrated novelists.
Sandra Cisneros has won the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.
"It’s hard to imagine navigating our world today without her stories and her voice guiding us towards needed much reclamation and endurance.” pic.twitter.com/6efxRVxdqP
— PEN America (@PENamerican) February 5, 2019
Cisneros will become just the third author ever to win the literature award, after Syrian poet Adonis in 2017 and Irish novelist Edna O’Brien in 2018. The award has been given annually since 2016 to living authors whose work is written in or translated into English.
“She is regarded as one of the most significant modern-day contributors to Chicano literature, often exploring the theme of dual identity in Mexican and Anglo-American cultures,” PEN America said in a statement. “Cisneros has not only changed the world of international literature, she has expanded American literature to include the Americas beyond the United States, inspiring a new era of Latinx writers we see emerging today.”
Cisneros started her writing career back in 1980 and has inspired countless voices since.
— Chica (@PeopleChica) February 8, 2019
“It’s astonishing, I truly don’t feel that I’ve arrived at where I want to be yet. I feel that I’m just getting started,” Cisneros said in an interview with the LA Times. “What an honor. I’m so thrilled to get this award from them.”
The 64-year-old author was born in Chicago and made her literary debut in 1980 with the poetry book “Bad Boys.” However, it was the novel “The House on Mango Street” that put her name on the map. Released in 1984, it introduced the world to the struggles of a teenage Latina growing up in Cisneros’ hometown of Chicago. The novel made Cisneros one of the most revered novelists during the 80’s in a time where Chicano voices were emerging in literature.
Cisneros would move to San Antonio shortly after “The House on Mango Street” was published and lived there for almost 30 years. She is currently living in the Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. She told the LA Times her move from the U.S. to Mexico was made to get away and get some solitude. “I really needed to find a house with a good wall around it, and some place that I could retreat and recharge, and I find that here in Mexico.”
Few authors have properly shined a light on the complex perspective of a Latino growing up in America like Cisneros has.
“I always tell people that I became a writer not because I went to school but because my mother took me to the library. I wanted to become a writer so I could see my name in the card catalog.”
— Literary Natives (@LiteraryNatives) February 6, 2019
Judges Alexander Chee, Edwidge Danticat, and Valeria Luiselli praised Cisneros’s work and contributions to the literary world. Fans of her work also took to social media to express how much her work has had on their lives.
In a sign of good faith, Cisneros says she is planning to use to buy a house for her employees with $50,000 cash prize the PEN/Nabokov Award comes with. “I’m so happy to be able to do this,” she said. “I just love them, and they are my family here, my spiritual family, and I always wanted to buy them a house and now I can.”
For Cisneros, the honor was never being given awards. It was always being able to share her story and give perspective to the Latin experience few ever read about. Her books continue to inspire countless readers today and cultivate the next generation of emerging writers.