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Carameloby Sandra Cisneros
Synopses & Reviews
The celebrated author of The House on Mango Street gives us an extraordinary new novel, told in language of blazing originality: a multigenerational story of a Mexican-American family whose voices create a dazzling weave of humor, passion, and poignancy-the very stuff of life.
Lala Reyes grandmother is descended from a family of renowned rebozo, or shawl, makers. The striped caramelo rebozo is the most beautiful of all, and the one that makes its way, like the family history it has come to represent, into Lalas possession. The novel opens with the Reyes annual car trip-a caravan overflowing with children, laughter, and quarrels-from Chicago to “the other side”: Mexico City. It is there, each year, that Lala hears her familys stories, separating the truth from the “healthy lies” that have ricocheted from one generation to the next. We travel from the Mexico City that was the “Paris of the New World” to the music-filled streets of Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties-and, finally, to Lalas own difficult adolescence in the not-quite-promised land of San Antonio, Texas.
Caramelo is a romantic tale of homelands, sometimes real, sometimes imagined. Vivid, funny, intimate, historical, it is a brilliant work destined to become a classic: a major new novel from one of our countrys most beloved storytellers.
"A family saga with a zesty Mexican-American accent....Cisneros' keen eye enlivens descriptions of everything from Chicago's famed Maxwell Street flea market to a sun-stroked house on Destiny Street. Stylistically original....[Cisneros shows that] the only way to cope is with a robust sense of humor." Kirkus Reviews
"A lavish, richly textured meditation on family and culture." Ilan Stavans, The Nation
"Imaginative...charming....Cisneros weaves tales from her own childhood with fabulous fiction, whipping up the story of Lala and her eccentric Mexican and Mexican-American family. Guided by Lala?s narration of her grandparents' and parents' histories, Caramelo engages in a kind of playfulness ('Tell me a story, even if it's a lie' is the quote that opens the book) that is utterly bewitching." Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, Entertainment Weekly
"With Caramelo, her exuberant, overstuffed novel, Cisneros undertakes storytelling on a grand scale, detailing the struggles and joys of three generations of a family, evoking a subtle panorama of cultural shifts. Her characters leap from the page in all their flawed humanity, falling in and out of love, squabbling and making up, working hard and making do." Jane Ciabattari, Los Angeles Times
"It is Cisneros' unique use of language that lifts Caramelo from the category of a very fine novel and situates it among the great literature of our time." Margaret Randall, The Women?s Review of Books
"Poet and writer Cisneros's sprawling, spirited Caramelo, her first novel since her hugely successful The House on Mango Street, revisits Chicago's Mexican-American community — this time to retrace the story of the raucous, loving family of Lala Reyes, which stretches back through some tough years in San Antonio, Texas, to its roots in Mexico City...a tumultuous and eventful history. Vibrant and big-hearted like Lala herself, Cisneros's prose captures both the personal intimacies and the larger-than-life atmosphere of the Reyes family's passionate saga." Lisa Shea, Elle
"Writers tell secrets, and in so doing, reaffirm the truths of our lives, the strength of love, the marvel of endurance, and the power of generations. In Caramelo, Sandra Cisneros sings to my blood. Her words are sweet and filling, not sugar-driven but as substantial as meat on the bone. Hers is the kind of family I know well — people who love and hate with their whole souls, who struggle and make over with every generation. She has done them justice on the page; she has given them to us whole." Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
"This book is a crowded train, a never-stop round-trip train going and coming back and going again between Mexico and the USA, across the frontiers of land and time: full of voices, full of music, made from memory, making life." Eduardo Galeano, author of Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World
"It's a crazy, funny and remarkable folk-saga of Mexican migrants told by a curious little girl who has the wisdom of an old grandma. Beginning on Highway 66, it's a salsified variant on the Joad family's odyssey, zigzagging from Chicago to Mexico City and back. It's all about la vida, the life of 'honorable labor.' It's a beautiful tale of all migrants caught between here and there. And it's a real lalapalooza!" Studs Terkel, author of Will the Circle be Unbroken
"Sandra Cisneros is like a bee that extracts new honey from old flowers. And Caramelo is like a Mexican candy that you suck slowly, savoring it under your tongue for hours; yet it is never sticky, never sugary nor sentimental. Cisneros possesses that most difficult ability — to allow us to imagine that which never existed." Elena Poniatowska, author of Here?s to You, Jesusa
The celebrated author of "The House on Mango Street" delivers an extraordinary new novel, told in language of blazing originality: a multigenerational story of a Mexican-American family whose voices create a dazzling weave of humor, passion, and poignancy--the very stuff of life.
About the Author
Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954. Internationally acclaimed for her poetry and fiction, she has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Lannan Foundation Literary Award and the American Book Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacArthur Foundation. Cisneros is the author of The House on Mango Street, Loose Woman, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, and a children's book, Hairs/Pelitos.
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