One Book, One Chicago-House On Mango Street

One Book, One Chicago-House On Mango Street


This week the Mayor announced the One Book, One Chicago selection. Felicidades to Sandra Cisneros and her book The House On Mango Street! The book is in its 25th Anniversary and still delighting readers of all ages.

The House On Mango Street was published in 1984 and traces Esperanza Cordero’s coming-of-age through a series of vignettes about her family, neighborhood, and secret dreams. Esperanza’s character shows us her self-empowerment and will to overcome obstacles of poverty, gender, and race. I got a copy of the book in Spanish and I’m so excited to send it to my 11 year-old niece Aylín in Mexico City.

Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in l954, the third child and only daughter in a family of seven children. I studied at Loyola University of Chicago (B.A. English 1976) and the University of Iowa (M.F.A. Creative Writing 1978). She worked as a teacher and counselor to high-school dropouts, as an artist-in-the schools where I taught creative writing at every level except first grade and pre-school, a college recruiter, an arts administrator, and as a visiting writer at a number of universities including the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Read more about Sandra’s books here!

One Book, One Chicago was inaugurated in the fall of 2001, the One Book, One Chicago program is launched each spring and fall to cultivate a culture of reading and discussion in Chicago by bringing our diverse city together around one great book. Past winners include, one of my favorites, Tell It To The Mountain by James Baldwin. The Press Conference: When I arrived at the Harold Washington Library I found an army of cameramen shooting footage of the press conference and people flipping through pages of the book. Proyecto Latina Radio Co-Producer Irasema Gonzalez was already there and lurking between book aisles I spotted Radio Arte’s General Manager Silvia Rivera and made my way towards them. I always find myself greatly entertained when I’m in the company of these two women. The press conference took a weird turn when the Mayor went from talking about The House On Mango Street to drugs in Mexico. I think it took away from the focus of the book and hope no one associates the book with drugs in Mexico. While he said things I agreed with it was definitely a different press conference. A couple of years ago… I remember Irasema dragging me all the way to Loyola University one cold March day to see a special reading by Sandra Cisneros. I was resisting because it was early in the morning. I am so thankful I went because not only was her reading amazing something unexpected happened. When it was our turn at the book signing we asked her about writing and she said, “Start a writing group and she pointed to other women in the room that had asked the same question. Sandra doesn’t know this but she is our writing group Madrina and we’ve been writing ever since. Her suggestion brought me together with other wonderful writers like Professor Lizann Acosta, Dr. Yolanda Cardenas, PhD. Candidate Magda Banda and Tianguis Book Store Owner Irasema Gonzalez and together we form the Maravilla Writing Collective. Click on this link for a video interview with Sandra Cisneros. Also Irasema will be interviewing Sandra and scheduled to air on Sunday, April 18 at 6 p.m. on 90.5 FM WRTE. Proyecto Latina extends un ABRAZOTE FUERTE to Sandra Cisneros for her wonderful writing and for opening puertas for the rest of us!

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