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Winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction
From Chicago to Mexico, the places Sandra Cisneros has lived have provided inspiration for her now-classic works of fiction and poetry. But a house of her own, a place where she could truly take root, has eluded her. In this jigsaw autobiography, made up of essays and images spanning three decades-and including never-before-published work-Cisneros has come home at last. Written with her trademark lyricism, in these signature pieces the acclaimed author of The House on Mango Street and winner of the 2018 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature shares her transformative memories and reveals her artistic and intellectual influences. Poignant, honest, and deeply moving, A House of My Own is an exuberant celebration of a life lived to the fullest, from one of our most beloved writers.
Cisneros, a MacArthur Fellow and two-time NEA grant recipient, has felt one constant emotion throughout her life: a hunger for a place that belongs to her, a place where she is free. In her lyrical, warm, and richly detailed account, Cisneros writes of her nomadic family. She, her parents, and her six brothers only find some sense of permanence during regular visits to her paternal grandparents in Mexico City. It isn't until she's an adolescent that they get their first real home in Chicago, which inspires her most famous novel, The House on Mango Street. But when given the chance, she flees in the early 1970s from the old-world, marriage-minded patriarchy of her father's home for university and an M.F.A. Then, with the half-finished Mango manuscript in tow, she leaves the country for the first time, at 28. She lands in Greece and finds her first home of her own, a house where she writes in the garden looking out over the mountains. Many years on, it "holds a dazzling place in my memory." Like many artists, Cisneros often lives as an itinerant; as a Mexican-American from "Chicano, Illinois," she toggles between two metaphorical worlds. Settling in San Antonio, she wears tunics, the same style worn by the servants her Mexican relatives employ, and declares, "This cloth is the flag of who I am." Now in her 60s, Cisneros vividly evokes the many stages of her life and the places she's been.