"Caramelo" by Sandra Cisneros

The author of "The House on Mango Street" reads from her new novel, a tale of real and imagined homelands.

Published December 11, 2002 9:07PM (EST)

Sandra Cisneros is the author of "The House on Mango Street." Internationally acclaimed for her poetry and fiction, she has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lannan Literary Award and the American Book Award, and of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacArthur Foundation.

Her new novel, "Caramelo," is a multigenerational story of a Mexican-American family whose voices create a dazzling weave of humor, passion and poignancy. 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 Lala's 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 family's 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 '20s -- and, finally, to Lala's own difficult adolescence in the not-quite-promised land of San Antonio, Texas.

Hear Sandra Cisneros read an excerpt from "Caramelo," courtesy of Harper Audio.

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------