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A House of My Own: A Bilingual Event

By Pat Hirschl

Home has been a theme for Sandra Cisneros since The House on Mango Street, the book that catapulted her to fame in 1984. Mango Street has won countless awards, been translated into many languages, is required reading in many US schools, and has sold over six million copies.

PEN 2016 Series
A House of My Own
A bilingual event with Sandra Cisneros
Tue, Feb 2, 6pm
Bellas Artes Auditorium
Hernández Macías 75
100 pesos

While Mango Street is about coming of age, A House of My Own is about coming to a certain age, being able to look back with a mature eye. From San Miguel de Allende, where she now has a house of her own, Cisneros speaks from the stage of the Bellas Artes auditorium in the fourth 2016 PEN event, Tuesday, February 2, at 6pm.

Cisneros’ new book has been described as a jigsaw autobiography. “A House of My Own reminds us of the importance of our place in the world, and of the holiness of what we find there. Cisneros is right there in the room, fiercely candid, warm and gracious, talking about everything: the best recipe for mole, her humiliating fifth-grade report card, the men in her life, her dreams about old houses and forgotten pets—and writing, always writing” (Gina Webb, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Dec. 2, 2015.)

Another reviewer describes the book as “stitched together like a kind of ceremonial huipul” (Sandra Ramirez, Los Angeles Review of Books, Dec. 8, 2015.)

Cisneros defines home in one story as “Not a flat. Not an apartment in back. Not a man’s house. Not a daddy’s. A house all my own. With my porch and my pillow, my pretty purple petunias. My books and my stories. My two shoes waiting beside the bed. Nobody to shake a stick at. Nobody’s garbage to pick up after. Only a house quiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem.”

While her work is profoundly personal, Cisneros is a community builder, an activist for writers and oppressed groups of all kinds, but especially Hispanics. After being named a MacArthur Fellow¾the prestigious grant that gives creative individuals a no strings attached grant (currently $650,000 over five years) to follow their gift¾she founded Los MacArturos (the Latino MacArthur Fellows). The Macondo Foundation, an association of socially engaged writers, and the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation, which supports Texas writers, are also her creations.

Not surprising then that her Tuesday talk will be bilingual to honor her new hometown and its native language. Liliana Valenzuela, her translator, will read in Spanish. Spanish speakers will hear a world-renowned voice in their own tongue, and English speakers can savor the rhythm and sound of the language that surrounds them in their San Miguel world.

Learn more on Tuesday, February 2, at 6pm. The 100-peso admission benefits San Miguel PEN and International PEN in their fight for freedom of expression around the world. It includes a free glass of wine with dinner after the event at Vivali, Hernández Macías 66. Tickets available at the La Biblioteca or at the door. Contact



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