Our House in the Last World

Overview

The debut novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, reissued in a new trade paperback format and design. Bearing all the hallmarks of Hijuelos's later work?exuberance, passion, honesty, and humor?this debut novel was heralded on its publication twenty years ago as "virtuoso writing...a novel of great warmth and tenderness" (New York Times Book Review). Filled with the sights and sounds of Cuba's Oriente province and New York City, the music and films of the fifties, lusty ...
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Overview

The debut novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, reissued in a new trade paperback format and design. Bearing all the hallmarks of Hijuelos's later work—exuberance, passion, honesty, and humor—this debut novel was heralded on its publication twenty years ago as "virtuoso writing...a novel of great warmth and tenderness" (New York Times Book Review). Filled with the sights and sounds of Cuba's Oriente province and New York City, the music and films of the fifties, lusty fantasies and the toughest of life's realities, it is the unforgettable story of Hector Santinio, the American-born son of Cuban immigrants, who is haunted by tales of "home" (a Cuba he has never seen) and by the excesses and then the death of his loving father. This edition includes a new autobiographical introduction by the author, reflecting on how he came to write Our House in the Last World, and a new afterword in which he comments on the story.

Author Biography: Oscar Hijuelos was born in New York City, where he still lives. He is the author of six novels, including Empress of the Splendid Season and A Simple Habana Melody (from when the world was good).

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Editorial Reviews

Edith Milton
''Our House in the Last World'' is a novel of great warmth and tenderness. . . . he never loses the syntax of magic, which transforms even the unspeakable into a sort of beauty.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The chaotic experience of Cubans transplanted to New York City throbs through the narrator's voice in this debut novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love . ``Elegiac as well as bittersweet and celebratory, the lusty tone of this novel compensates for its erratic structure,'' stated PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist launched his career with this 1983 title. The autobiographical work is the coming-of-age story of Hector Santino. Born in New York City to Cuban immigrants, Hector learns about his parent's native country and his heritage through their stories. This edition contains a new introduction and afterword by Hijuelos. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
The New York Times Book Review
“Never loses the syntax of magic...a novel of great warmth and tenderness.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892552832
  • Publisher: Persea Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/1983
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 505,362
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Oscar Hijuelos
With its lush writing and Proustian sensuousness, Oscar Hijuelos’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, established him as a great literary stylist. In subsequent books, Hijuelos, who enjoys experimenting with form and voice, has continued to explore memory, assimilation, and identity in the rich language that has become his trademark.

Biography

While reviewers often liken Oscar Hijuelos' dreamy, rich novels to the works of Gabriel García Márquez, Hijuelos himself takes exception to the comparison. These reviewers are "myopic," he told a writer for The New York Times. "I love Yeats and Flann O'Brien."

And the language in Hijuelos' novels is indeed as poetic as the language of his Irish heroes. When The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, the story of two Cuban brothers who move to Spanish Harlem in the 1950s to make their mark as singers, appeared in 1990, readers and critics waxed ecstatic about Hijuelos' writing.

Hijuelos, a second-generation Cuban-American who was born in New York City, writes about assimilation and identity, love and loss, and the power -- and pain -- of family life. In Our House in the Last World, Hijuelos' first book, he explores the world of memory and displacement, following the fortunes of a Cuban family transplanted to New York in the 1940s. In The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, for which Hijuelos received the Pulitzer Prize, Hijuelos created the Castillo brothers, Nestor and Cesar. Their story was recounted through Cesar's memories and fantasies, as he lived out his last days in a seedy hotel. In researching the book, Hijuelos steeped himself in Latin music from the period and in his own remembrances of his childhood on Manhattan's 118th Street. The result is a highly charged yet tender distillation of past, suffused with a crystalline sense of detail that brings Nabokov to mind.

Hijuelos attributes some of this obsession with memory to his heritage. "Latins are predisposed to thinking about the past," he told the Times. "Catholicism has a lot to do with it because Catholicism is a contemplation of the past, of symbols that are supposed to be eternally present."

With The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien (1993), he took his exploration of memory in a different direction, telling the story from the perspectives of several female narrators, and stretching them across several generations. In 1999s Empress of the Splendid Season, he switched perspectives again for the story of a cleaning woman whose life is a stark counterpoint to that of her wealthy employer's. Three years later in A Simple Habana Melody, Hijuelos returned to "when the world was good," in 1920s Havana with a love story told by a Cuban composer whose infatuation inspires him to write the most famous song of his career.

Good To Know

Writers Donald Barthelme and Susan Sontag were among Hijuelos's teachers at City College of the City University of New York.
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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 24, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., City College of the City University of New York, 1975; M.A.,1976

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