A word about Oscar Hijuelos, who died on Sunday
Cuban American books are rare. We are slowly creating a library and it will take time to tell our story.
We just learned that Oscar Hijuelos died of a heart attack in Washington DC:
""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."
It was fiction but "los hermanos Castillo" connected with all us.
It was one of the most entertaining books I've read and movies I've watched.
I have recommended the movie to many, specially those who like a little Cuban music.
What could be better than two "hungry" Cubans who come here without a penny and a bag full of songs? Didn't we all land here penniless and full of "making it in America" dreams?
What about two Cubans who get an engagement on "I Love Lucy" after running into Desi Arnaz at a club? Maybe the Arnaz' story is too good to be true (again, it's fiction) but it is super! Frankly, it is believable because Desi Arnaz also landed penniless in the US. He'd relate to the two brothers because he was a hungry musician at one time in his life.
Hijuelos's critics said that he was more American-Cuban than Cuban American. I think that this is because he was born in New York City and connected with Cuba later.
As far as I'm concerned, Oscar Hijuelos is one of us. He added a nice story to our Cuban American library. We will always be grateful for that.
RIP Oscar Hijueos. Thanks for a great book.
You can hear CANTO TALK here.