Sandra Cisneros is a daughter of Texas.
She isn’t really a Texan, per se, but her writing – mostly involving Latinos and Latino issues – has so resonated among Texas audiences that she was awarded the Texas Medal of the Arts. She was writer-in-residence at Our Lady of The Lake University in San Antonio once upon a time and received the Texas Institute of Letters Dobie Paisano Fellowship.
Cisneros is the author of “The House on Mango Street.” It’s a book so beloved that it’s required reading in middle schools, high schools and universities across the country. It’s sold over six million copies since its initial publication and it’s still selling strongly.
Tomorrow, Cisneros releases her memoir, “A House of My Own.”
Clay Smith, editor-in-chief of Texas-based Kirkus Reviews, says the book goes through her entire career. One of the controversial moments in Cisneros’s life was when she painted her house, in the historic King William district of San Antonio, bright violet.
“It all seems a little bit silly but at the time, this was kind of a big deal in San Antonio – it made the news,” he says.
Cisneros talks about the event in her memoir and she gets at the heart of the issue – who owns history.
“Mexico is awash in vibrant colors and there’s absolutely no reason why her house shouldn’t have been a beautiful violet color,” he says.
The list of colors, Smith says, have names like Plymouth Rock gray and “You can see that old animosity between Anglo history and Mexican Latino history,” he says.
“It seems very petty – it’s just the color of a house – but it spoke to a much bigger controversial issue about who owns Texas and who gets to tell the history of our state.”
Smith says this book won’t stir up old controversies, but rather points a direction out of the conflict. Cisneros, who now lives in Mexico, seems to have found that place of comfort, he says.
“It’s really a book where she’s found a spiritual home,” he says. “This book is very much about trying to find a home.”