A great American novelist and poet, Sandra Cisneros, was born on the 20th of December in 1954, in Chicago, Illinois. She was the only surviving daughter of Alfredo Cisneros de Moral and Elvira Cordero Anguiano, a Mexican couple. Although she spent her early years in Chicago, the family often visited Mexico to meet Sandra’s grandparents. Since the family lived mostly in the low areas of Chicago and faced a lot of social problems like racism, poverty, and discrimination, these difficulties influenced her so much so that they echoed these growing up troubles in her writings of later years.
Although she belonged to a traditional family, where men and women had to act according to their defined roles, yet her family never imposed any social rigid norms upon her. They provided their daughter with every opportunity to equip herself with quality education. She started her formal education at Catholic high school and later went to Loyola University, Chicago from where she received her bachelor’s degree in writing and completed a master’s in English from Loyola University.
Awards and Honors
Her literary output has brought her several awards and honors. She won the American Book Award in 1985 and National Endowment for the Arts in 1981. Later, she won the National Medal of Arts in 2016 and PEN/Nabokov Award in 2019. Her other notable achievements include Quality Paperback Book Club New Voices Award, the PEN Center West Award for the best fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Lannan Foundation Literary Award, and the Mountain & Plains Booksellers’ Award.
Some Important Facts about Her
- She has published about forty works, but, she won fame through her work, The House on Mango Street.
- Sandra founded the Macondo Foundation in 1995 that holds an annual writer’s workshop to provide essential training to the upcoming writer’s journalist and poets.
- Her work, The House on Mango Street, has witnessed more than twenty translations with over six million copies sold across the globe.
Sandra Cisneros became a published writer in 1980 when her first short book of poetry, Bad Boys, appeared on the shelves and brought the writer into the limelight. After four years, she came up with her big hit, The House on Mango Street, weaving the story of Esperanza and her relationship with her community. The accurate coming-of-age tale brought her commercial as well as literary success and added more to her glory. Following this success, Sandra published My Wicked Wicked Ways in 1987 and a collection of short stories, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories in 1991. Later, in 1994, she published her first children’s book, Hairs/Pelitos. The same year, she produced another remarkable work, Loose Woman, and won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers’ Award. After this, her second remarkable novel, Caramelo, appeared in 2002 and once again, secured many awards for her. Her other famous work stands A House of My Own: Stories from My Life.
Sandra Cisneros is known for her unique writing style; she beautifully incorporates Spanish into English writing to convey her ideas effectively. The manipulation of these two languages allows her to add various new expressions into her writings such as In Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. In her masterpiece, The House on Mango Street, she has used a succinct, clear, readable, and poetic style to detail the life of a girl who chases her dreams and becomes successful. In her stories, she has used a collage of narrative techniques to serve a distinct purpose of alluring the readers. Some of the literary devices she has applied in her writings are symbolism, imagery, allegory, allusions, and sound devices. However, most of her themes are displacement, discrimination, traditional cultural rebellion, society, and love-equal-powers.
Some Important Works of Sandra Cisneros
- Best Works: Some of her remarkable works include The House on Mango Street, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, Loose Woman: Poems, A House of My Own and various others.
Sandra Cisneros’ Impacts on Literature
Sandra Cisneros’s opinions about self-fulfillment and cultural and traditional rebellion have won her a wide readership. As this requires a new writing approach, she has the uncanny ability to adapt to the situation. Her approach has made her stand among the best writers of her time. Her thoughtful ideas written in this way has influenced many great writers and critics such as Deborah L Madsen, a literary critic, who says that Sandra’s writings are both technically and aesthetically accomplished. Also, her experimentation with two languages in her works has attracted many writers to imitate her unique style, considering her a beacon for writing fiction.
- “And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn’t be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window.” (The House on Mango Street)
- “They bloom like roses, I continue because it’s obvious I’m the only one who can speak with any authority; I have science on my side. The bones just open. Just like that. One day you might decide to have kids, and then where are you going to put them? Got to have room. Bones got to give.” (The House on Mango Street)
- “They never saw the kitchenettes. They never knew about the two-room flats and sleeping rooms he rented, the weekly money orders sent home, the currency exchange. How could they? His name was Geraldo. And his home is in another country. The ones he left behind are far away, will wonder, shrug, remember. Geraldo – he went north…we never heard from him again.” (The House on Mango Street)
- “I have begun my own quiet war. Simple. Sure. I am one who leaves the table like a man, without putting back the chair or picking up the plate.” (The House on Mango Street)