Sandra Cisneros

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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Sandra Cisneros
Born: December 20, 1954
Chicago, Ilinois
Occupation: Novelist, Poet, Short Story writer
Nationality: Flag of United States American
Genres: Literary Fiction

Sandra Cisneros (born December 20, 1954 in Chicago) is an American author and poet best known for her novel The House on Mango Street. She is also the author of Caramelo, published by Knopf in 2002. Much of her writing is influenced by her Mexican-American heritage. Her other published works include Woman Hollering Creek (1991), a book of short stories; three books of poetry, Bad Boys (1980), My Wicked Wicked Ways (1987) and Loose Woman (1994); and Vintage Cisneros (2003), a collection of her works. In 1994, she wrote a children's book, Hairs/Pelitos, with a Spanish translation by Liliana Valenzuela; Valenzuela also translated Woman Hollering Creek (as El arroyo de la Llorona y otros cuentos) and Caramelo. The House on Mango Street was translated into Spanish by Elena Poniatowska as La casa en Mango Street.


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Education and awards
  • 3 Philosophy
  • 4 External links

Early life

Cisneros was the third of seven children and is the only girl of six boys in the family. Her Mexican father, Mexican-American mother, and six brothers have served as models for characters in her fiction. During childhood, her family moved through a series of run-down apartments in the poor neighborhoods of Chicago's South Side. While a teenager, her family realized her dream of purchasing a house, although she considered it ugly and old. This probably inspired much of her most famous novel The House on Mango Street. Her family frequently traveled between Mexico and the United States, inspiring elements of Caramelo. Her writing is influenced by many aspects of her life, including her childhood, her family, and her Mexican-American heritage.

Education and awards

In 1976, Cisneros received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Loyola University of Chicago. She enrolled in the graduate program in creative writing at the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop and earned a master’s degree in creative writing in 1978. She taught English and Creative Writing as a visiting professor at California State University, Chico in 1987-1988, at the University of California, Berkeley in 1988-1989, at the University of California, Irvine in 1990 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1990-1991, and at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque in 1991-1992. She received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1982, which allowed her to stay one year at Michael Karolyi Institute in Vence, France. Her first book of fiction, The House on Mango Street, was awarded the American Book Award by the Before Columbus Foundation in 1985. She received a Paisano Dobie Fellowship in 1986 and a second National Endowment for the Arts award in 1988. Cisneros has been awarded the Lannan Literary Award for fiction in 1991, an honorary Doctor of Literature degreed by the State University of New York at Purchase in 1993, a MacArthur "Genius" grant for her writing in 1995, and the Texas Medal of the Arts in 2003.


In a 1992 interview, Cisneros said: "A story is like a Giacometti sculpture; the further you get away from it, the clearer you can see it." She has also stated that she chooses the ugliest topics she can find and writes about them, in order to inform her readers about reality.

Sandra Cisneros currently resides in San Antonio, Texas in the infamous "purple house" on Guenther Street. In addition to her writing career, she volunteers in the Esperanza Center for Peace and Justice and serves as the literature director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. In 1995 she founded the Macondo Workshop, described on its website as "a unique summer gathering for writers working on geographic, cultural, social and spiritual borders." Her work is read in schools all over the United States, from high schools to universities, giving her the status of a canonical author.

  • Official website
  • Macondo Workshop website
  • Voices from the Gaps biography
  • Modern American Poetry
  • Teacher Resource File
  • VG Artist Biography
  • University of Michigan News Service item on Sandra Cisneros
  • PAL
  • Sandra Cisneros reads "Los Nadies/The Nobodies" by Eduardo Galeano from Book of Embraces, El libro de los abrazos 1989 (MP3)
  • 1991 audio interview of Sandra gabriella
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