Discipline: Literature

Oscar Hijuelos

Discipline: Literature
Region: New York, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 1984, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1997

Oscar Hijuelos (1951-2013) was an American novelist of Cuban descent. During a year-long convalescence from a childhood illness spent in a Connecticut hospital he lost his knowledge of Spanish, his parents' native language. He was educated in New York City, and wrote short stories and advertising copy. Hijuelos started writing short stories and dramas while working in advertising. His first novel, Our House in the Last World, was published in 1983 and earned him the Ingram Merrill Foundation Award. This novel follows the life of a Cuban family in the United States during the 1940s. In 1985 he received the Rome Prize, awarded by the American Academy in Rome. His second novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, received the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, making him the first Hispanic to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The book was then adapted for the 1992 movie The Mambo Kings, starring Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas. It became a musical in 2005. In its theme of the American immigrant experience, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love was similar to many of his works. In 2000, he received the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature. In 2003 he received the Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. Hijuelos taught at Hofstra University and was affiliated with Duke University, where he was a member of the faculty of the Department of English for six years before his death.



Oscar Hijuelos worked in the Barnard studio.

Originally built near MacDowell's Union Street entrance, the Barnard Studio — which was funded by Barnard College music students — was re-located to its current site in 1910. When the small structure was moved, its size was doubled with the addition of a second room. This remodeling, financed by Mrs. Thomas E. Emery of Cincinnati…

Learn more