American-born Hispanic author Oscar Hijuelos died of a heart attack over the weekend – a cardiac arrest which occurred on a tennis court in New York City. Hijuelos was the first Latino writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. According to the Los Angeles Times on Monday, Oct. 14, his agent confirmed the death.
Hijuelos died at 62, while still at the peak of his writing career. He published a memoir in 2011, called “Thoughts Without Cigarettes.” But his second book, published in 1989, was called “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love.” That novel, which he often said he did not expect would even be published, garnered the Pulitzer Prize.
“It was a masterpiece,” novelist Francine Prose said in an interview with the Times on Sunday. “It was so beautiful and unlike anything I'd heard before.”
But the writer never thought of himself as an ethnic storyteller. “I basically do my own thing,” he told Newsday in 1999. “I quietly write novels.” Even so, his work made it possible for a generation of Latino writers to be published and read.
Hijuelo’s other works include: “Empress of the Splendid Season,” “Mr. Ives' Christmas,” “The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien” and “Our House in the Last World.”