Judson College hosting Sandra Cisneros

Published 7:53 pm Monday, March 27, 2017

Judson College will soon host award-winning author, Sandra Cisneros.

Cisneros’s work explores working-class Latino life in America, particularly Chicago, where she grew up, and where she set her well-known coming-of-age novel, “The House on Mango Street”. The novel, first published in 1984, won the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award in 1985, and is required reading in middle schools, high schools and universities across the nation.

It has sold over five million copies in the United States since its initial publication.

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“We are elated to have her,” said Dr. Billie Jean Young, associate professor of fine and performing arts at Judson.

“We are just overly excited [to host her]. It’s not easy to get her.”

Cisneros will read from “The House on Mango Street” as well as from her memoir, “A House of My Own: Stories from My Life”, which was published in October 2015.

“It’s kind of a coming of age book for young girls in almost any culture or race,” Young said.

“It speaks to a broad cross section of people. ‘The House on Mango Street’ is 34 years old, and it’s still very pertinent to young girls today.”

Cisneros’s numerous awards include NEA fellowships in both poetry and fiction, the Texas Medal of the Arts, a MacArthur Fellowship and several honorary doctorates and book awards nationally and internationally. Recently Cisneros received Chicago’s Fifth Star Award and the PEN Center’s 2016 Award in non-fiction for “A House of My Own”.

In 2016, Cisneros received the National Medal of the Arts, awarded to her by President Barack Obama.

“One of the things that endears us to her is the universality of the messages in her books,” Young said.

“She speaks to all of us. She is a phenomenal woman. She earns her living by the pen and so she’s a good role model for women.”

Young said she and Cisneros are both McArthur Fellows, and met through the program.

Young invited her to speak at Judson and was excited when the plans were in motion.

“When she agreed to come, she said ‘We live in perilous times, so we have to be intentionally good to each other. We have to do intentional good,’” Young said. “So for her, part of that is just coming to Judson.”

The event, sponsored by Judson College’s Concert-Lecture Series, Project Curiosity Critical Thinking Series, Departments of English and Drama and the Office of Faith-Based Service and Learning, will take place in the Alumnae Auditorium at 7 p.m. A reception and book signing will follow in Archibald Hall.

The event is free and open to the public.

“We are super excited to be bringing her here as a kind of model for our young women students,” Young said.

“We’re just very pleased that she’s coming and that we’ll be able to share her with this region and this community and we want to encourage other people to come.”