The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

October 14, 2013

Pulitzer-winning novelist Hijuelos dies

NEW YORK — Oscar Hijuelos, a Cuban-American novelist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1989 novel “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love” and whose work often captured the loss and triumphs of the Cuban immigrant experience, has died. He was 62.

Hijuelos died of a heart attack in Manhattan on Saturday while playing tennis, according to his agent, Jennifer Lyons.

“The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love” became a best seller and earned him international acclaim. He won the Pulitzer for fiction in 1990, making him the first Hispanic writer to receive that honor.

The novel tells the story of two Cuban brothers who journey from Havana to New York to start an orchestra. At one point in the story, the brothers appear on the television sitcom “I Love Lucy,” which starred Lucille Ball and her Cuban bandleader husband, Desi Arnaz. The book was eventually turned into a movie starring Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas.

In his 2011 memoir, “Thoughts Without Cigarettes,” Hijuelos writes of how he struggled against being labeled an “ethnic” writer and notes that even today there are few other Latinos whose work, despite the considerable number of talented authors, has been awarded the same recognition.

After a trip with his mother to Cuba as a young child, he became ill with a kidney disease and was hospitalized for a year, during which he loses his Spanish-speaking ability, and never truly recovers it.

“For the longest time, all I would know was that I had gotten sick in Cuba, from Cuban microbios, that the illness had blossomed in the land of my forebears, the country where I had once been loved and whose language fell as music on my ears,” Hijuelos writes. “Of course, diseases happen anywhere, and children get sick under any circumstances, but what I would hear for years afterward from my mother was that something Cuban had nearly killed me and, in the process of my healing, would turn my own ‘Cubaness’ into air.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Study: Half of jailed youths have injury

    NEW YORK — About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City’s jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that’s the latest in a growing body of ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Senate to debate rideshare regulations

    PHOENIX — Among the major issues left to cover at the Arizona Legislature before the session ends is how to regulate the increasingly popular ridesharing programs like Uber and Lyft. The contentious debate has pitted traditional taxi ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Quake shakes Mexican capital

    ACAPULCO, Mexico — A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties....

    April 19, 2014

  • Fear and loathing

    DENVER — A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Captain arrested after sinking of ferry

    MOKPO, South Korea — The captain of a sunken South Korean ferry was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need, as investigators looked into whether his evacuation order came too late to save lives. Two crew ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Judge asks pointed questions in gay marriage case

    DENVER — A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions....

    April 18, 2014

  • Sudan: 12 die after mob attacks UN base

    JUBA, South Sudan — An angry mob of South Sudanese youths attacked a U.N. base on Thursday to harm members of an ethnic minority sheltering inside. Peacekeepers were forced to open fire, amid rampaging violence that killed at least 12 ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

    LOS ANGELES — Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Creek, old purse solve mystery

    ELK POINT, S.D. — Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson had planned to celebrate the end of the 1971 school year by gathering with classmates at a quarry along a gravel road....

    April 18, 2014

  • Chaotic scene described on sinking ferry

    MOKPO, South Korea — There was chaos and confusion on the bridge of a sinking ferry, with the captain first trying to stabilize the listing vessel before ordering its evacuation, a crewman said Thursday....

    April 18, 2014