The celebrated author of The House on Mango Street gives us an extraordinary new novel, told in language of blazing originality: a multigenerational story of a Mexican-American family whose voices create a dazzling weave of humor, passion, and poignancy—the very stuff of life.

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 Twenties—and, finally, to Lala’s own difficult adolescence in the not-quite-promised land of San Antonio, Texas.

Caramelo is a romantic tale of homelands, sometimes real, sometimes imagined. Vivid, funny, intimate, historical, it is a brilliant work destined to become a classic: a major new novel from one of our country’s most beloved storytellers.


“A joyful, fizzy American novel. Cisneros writes poetry as well as prose, and her language is a lovely fusion of Spanish and English, idea and emotion, geography and spirit… This is one of those novels that blithely leap across the border between literary and popular fiction… Vivid… boisterous. . . . playful… a delicious reminder that ‘American’ applies to plenty of territory beyond the borders of the United States.” —Valerie Sayers, The New York Times Book Review

“Ten years in the making, Sandra Cisneros’s second novel bursts from between its covers with all the energy of a riotous family fiesta. Emotions are in living color—raw, intricate and as brightly variegated as that most desirable of rebozos—the shawl they call the caramelo. This long-awaited second novel is potentially a watershed in U.S. Latino literature…” —Adriana Lopez, Washington Post Book World

“With Caramelo, her exuberant, overstuffed novel, Cisneros undertakes storytelling on a grand scale, detailing the struggles and joys of three generations of a family, evoking a subtle panorama of cultural shifts. Her characters leap from the page in all their flawed humanity, falling in and out of love, squabbling and making up, working hard and making do.” —Jane Ciabattari, Los Angeles Times

“It is Cisneros’ unique use of language that lifts Caramelo from the category of a very fine novel and situates it among the great literature of our time.” —Margaret Randall, The Women’s Review of Books

“It’s as if she has poured her entire life into a metafictional fable that combines the thematic richness of the most ambitious literature with the delight in character and plot of the most engrossing page-turner.” —Don McLeese, Chicago Sun-Times

“Lovingly, passionately woven… this is a huge, pan-generational, big-shouldered effort about identity, loyalty, loss, truth-telling, story-telling and, of course, memory, a little history, a little more gossip, a few terrible secrets and a thousand ‘healthy lies’ all pieced together into something as multishaded, raw-edged and timeless as that heirloom, great-grandmother’s caramelo shawl.” —Margaria Fichtner, The Miami Herald

“Sandra Cisneros is like a bee that extracts new honey from old flowers. And Caramelo is like a Mexican candy that you suck slowly, savoring it under your tongue for hours; yet it is never sticky, never sugary nor sentimental. Cisneros possesses that most difficult ability—to allow us to imagine that which never existed.” —Elena Poniatowska, author of Here’s to You, Jesusa

“Writers tell secrets, and in so doing, reaffirm the truths of our lives, the strength of love, the marvel of endurance, and the power of generations. In Caramelo, Sandra Cisneros sings to my blood. Her words are sweet and filling, not sugar-driven but as substantial as meat on the bone. Hers is the kind of family I know well–people who love and hate with their whole souls, who struggle and make over with every generation. She has done them justice on the page; she has given them to us whole.” —Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

“It’s a crazy, funny and remarkable folk-saga of Mexican migrants told by a curious little girl who has the wisdom of an old grandma. Beginning on Highway 66, it’s a salsified variant on the Joad family's odyssey, zigzagging from Chicago to Mexico City and back. It’s all about la vida, the life of ‘honorable labor.’ It’s a beautiful tale of all migrants caught between here and there.” —Studs Terkel, author of Will the Circle be Unbroken

“This book is a crowded train, a never-stop round-trip train going and coming back and going again between Mexico and the USA, across the frontiers of land and time: full of voices, full of music, made from memory, making life.” —Eduardo Galeano, author of Memory of Fire and Upside Down
© Keith Dannemiller
SANDRA CISNEROS is a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, performer, and artist. Her numerous awards include NEA fellowships in both poetry and fiction, a MacArthur Fellowship, national and international book awards, including the PEN America Literary Award, and the National Medal of Arts. More recently, she received the Ford Foundation's Art of Change Fellowship, was recognized with the Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, and won the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. In addition to her writing, Cisneros has fostered the careers of many aspiring and emerging writers through two nonprofits she founded: the Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation. As a single woman she made the choice to have books instead of children. A citizen of both the United States and Mexico, Cisneros currently lives in San Miguel de Allende and makes her living by her pen. View titles by Sandra Cisneros
  • WINNER
    ALA Best Books for Young Adults
  • WINNER
    Booklist Editor's Choice for Young Adults
  • WINNER
    School Library Journal Adult Books for Young Adults
  • NOMINEE | 2004
    International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
"All the energy of a riotous family fiesta. . . . Cisneros is undeniably at her peak.” —The Washington Post

"A glorious book, Caramelo is crowded with the souvenirs and memories of the dramas of everyday life…like an oversized family album, intimate as well as universal." —The Philadelphia Inquirer

"A joyful, fizzy American novel. . . Soulful, sophisticated and skeptical, full of great one-liners, it is one of those novels that blithely leap across the border between literary and popular fiction.” —New York Times Book Review

"Like Eduardo Galeano, John Dos Passos and John Steinbeck, Cisneros writes along the borders where the novel and social history intersect. In this lovingly told and poetic novel, she uses the storytelling art to give the voiceless ones a voice, and to find the border to the past, imbuing the struggles of her family and her countries with the richness of myth.” —Los Angeles Times

“A wonderful book . . . evoking life’s absurdity and possibility, tragedy and transcendence. . . . Combines the thematic richness of the most ambitious literature with the delight in character and plot of the most engrossing page-turner.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“Cisneros is a writer for all people. This is a novel of families, home life and finding yourself in the world’s greater landscape.” —USA Today

“A sprawling, exuberant hopscotch through a century of family history. . . . Cisneros seduces us with her knitted tales, great and small, and her message is all the more powerful for its shimmering clarity.” —Time Out New York

“Cisneros has a great eye for detail, a good ear for dialogue and a marvelous sense of humor. . . Caramelo is a tour de force—rich in its use of language, breathtaking in scope.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Lovingly, passionately woven from dust and glory. . . A sweeping family history that somehow manages to interlace not just the Reyeses—those conjurers, enticers and troublemakers—but also all the rest of us, the good and bad together, the bitter and, of course, the sweet.” —Miami Herald

“Sprawling, spirited. . . Vibrant and big-hearted.” —Elle

“Cisneros’s exuberant prose tickles the senses. . . A warm and generous story to wrap yourself up in.” —St. Petersburg Times

“A sweet gift from the universe, a reminder of the ancient, deep, noble, and sad sources of the human heart. . . sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes transcendent.” –San Antonio Express

“Cisneros is a virtuoso. . . [Caramelo] is rich in character and action, people and passions.” —Houston Chronicle

“Remarkable. . . . Caramelo is a book to read slowly and savor and if you can find a listener, to read out loud.” —Santa Fe New Mexican

“Cisneros is such an imaginative storyteller. . . Caramelo engages in a kind of playfulness that is utterly bewitching.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Spellbinding. . . A richly satisfying novel.” —People

“There should be a brand-new language to describe the ways in which [Cisneros] has imbued the ancient art of story-telling with her trademark organization, characterization, evocation of time and place, portrayal of a particular culture, and visionary wisdom. . .You must read this book for yourself, two or three times.” —The Women’s Review of Books

“Cisneros is a wonderful cultural translator, writing English dialogue so saturated with Mexican-Spanish idioms and constructions that you feel like you’ve been magically empowered to eavesdrop in another language.” —The Oregonian

About

The celebrated author of The House on Mango Street gives us an extraordinary new novel, told in language of blazing originality: a multigenerational story of a Mexican-American family whose voices create a dazzling weave of humor, passion, and poignancy—the very stuff of life.

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 Twenties—and, finally, to Lala’s own difficult adolescence in the not-quite-promised land of San Antonio, Texas.

Caramelo is a romantic tale of homelands, sometimes real, sometimes imagined. Vivid, funny, intimate, historical, it is a brilliant work destined to become a classic: a major new novel from one of our country’s most beloved storytellers.


“A joyful, fizzy American novel. Cisneros writes poetry as well as prose, and her language is a lovely fusion of Spanish and English, idea and emotion, geography and spirit… This is one of those novels that blithely leap across the border between literary and popular fiction… Vivid… boisterous. . . . playful… a delicious reminder that ‘American’ applies to plenty of territory beyond the borders of the United States.” —Valerie Sayers, The New York Times Book Review

“Ten years in the making, Sandra Cisneros’s second novel bursts from between its covers with all the energy of a riotous family fiesta. Emotions are in living color—raw, intricate and as brightly variegated as that most desirable of rebozos—the shawl they call the caramelo. This long-awaited second novel is potentially a watershed in U.S. Latino literature…” —Adriana Lopez, Washington Post Book World

“With Caramelo, her exuberant, overstuffed novel, Cisneros undertakes storytelling on a grand scale, detailing the struggles and joys of three generations of a family, evoking a subtle panorama of cultural shifts. Her characters leap from the page in all their flawed humanity, falling in and out of love, squabbling and making up, working hard and making do.” —Jane Ciabattari, Los Angeles Times

“It is Cisneros’ unique use of language that lifts Caramelo from the category of a very fine novel and situates it among the great literature of our time.” —Margaret Randall, The Women’s Review of Books

“It’s as if she has poured her entire life into a metafictional fable that combines the thematic richness of the most ambitious literature with the delight in character and plot of the most engrossing page-turner.” —Don McLeese, Chicago Sun-Times

“Lovingly, passionately woven… this is a huge, pan-generational, big-shouldered effort about identity, loyalty, loss, truth-telling, story-telling and, of course, memory, a little history, a little more gossip, a few terrible secrets and a thousand ‘healthy lies’ all pieced together into something as multishaded, raw-edged and timeless as that heirloom, great-grandmother’s caramelo shawl.” —Margaria Fichtner, The Miami Herald

“Sandra Cisneros is like a bee that extracts new honey from old flowers. And Caramelo is like a Mexican candy that you suck slowly, savoring it under your tongue for hours; yet it is never sticky, never sugary nor sentimental. Cisneros possesses that most difficult ability—to allow us to imagine that which never existed.” —Elena Poniatowska, author of Here’s to You, Jesusa

“Writers tell secrets, and in so doing, reaffirm the truths of our lives, the strength of love, the marvel of endurance, and the power of generations. In Caramelo, Sandra Cisneros sings to my blood. Her words are sweet and filling, not sugar-driven but as substantial as meat on the bone. Hers is the kind of family I know well–people who love and hate with their whole souls, who struggle and make over with every generation. She has done them justice on the page; she has given them to us whole.” —Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

“It’s a crazy, funny and remarkable folk-saga of Mexican migrants told by a curious little girl who has the wisdom of an old grandma. Beginning on Highway 66, it’s a salsified variant on the Joad family's odyssey, zigzagging from Chicago to Mexico City and back. It’s all about la vida, the life of ‘honorable labor.’ It’s a beautiful tale of all migrants caught between here and there.” —Studs Terkel, author of Will the Circle be Unbroken

“This book is a crowded train, a never-stop round-trip train going and coming back and going again between Mexico and the USA, across the frontiers of land and time: full of voices, full of music, made from memory, making life.” —Eduardo Galeano, author of Memory of Fire and Upside Down

Author

© Keith Dannemiller
SANDRA CISNEROS is a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, performer, and artist. Her numerous awards include NEA fellowships in both poetry and fiction, a MacArthur Fellowship, national and international book awards, including the PEN America Literary Award, and the National Medal of Arts. More recently, she received the Ford Foundation's Art of Change Fellowship, was recognized with the Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, and won the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. In addition to her writing, Cisneros has fostered the careers of many aspiring and emerging writers through two nonprofits she founded: the Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation. As a single woman she made the choice to have books instead of children. A citizen of both the United States and Mexico, Cisneros currently lives in San Miguel de Allende and makes her living by her pen. View titles by Sandra Cisneros

Awards

  • WINNER
    ALA Best Books for Young Adults
  • WINNER
    Booklist Editor's Choice for Young Adults
  • WINNER
    School Library Journal Adult Books for Young Adults
  • NOMINEE | 2004
    International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Praise

"All the energy of a riotous family fiesta. . . . Cisneros is undeniably at her peak.” —The Washington Post

"A glorious book, Caramelo is crowded with the souvenirs and memories of the dramas of everyday life…like an oversized family album, intimate as well as universal." —The Philadelphia Inquirer

"A joyful, fizzy American novel. . . Soulful, sophisticated and skeptical, full of great one-liners, it is one of those novels that blithely leap across the border between literary and popular fiction.” —New York Times Book Review

"Like Eduardo Galeano, John Dos Passos and John Steinbeck, Cisneros writes along the borders where the novel and social history intersect. In this lovingly told and poetic novel, she uses the storytelling art to give the voiceless ones a voice, and to find the border to the past, imbuing the struggles of her family and her countries with the richness of myth.” —Los Angeles Times

“A wonderful book . . . evoking life’s absurdity and possibility, tragedy and transcendence. . . . Combines the thematic richness of the most ambitious literature with the delight in character and plot of the most engrossing page-turner.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“Cisneros is a writer for all people. This is a novel of families, home life and finding yourself in the world’s greater landscape.” —USA Today

“A sprawling, exuberant hopscotch through a century of family history. . . . Cisneros seduces us with her knitted tales, great and small, and her message is all the more powerful for its shimmering clarity.” —Time Out New York

“Cisneros has a great eye for detail, a good ear for dialogue and a marvelous sense of humor. . . Caramelo is a tour de force—rich in its use of language, breathtaking in scope.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Lovingly, passionately woven from dust and glory. . . A sweeping family history that somehow manages to interlace not just the Reyeses—those conjurers, enticers and troublemakers—but also all the rest of us, the good and bad together, the bitter and, of course, the sweet.” —Miami Herald

“Sprawling, spirited. . . Vibrant and big-hearted.” —Elle

“Cisneros’s exuberant prose tickles the senses. . . A warm and generous story to wrap yourself up in.” —St. Petersburg Times

“A sweet gift from the universe, a reminder of the ancient, deep, noble, and sad sources of the human heart. . . sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes transcendent.” –San Antonio Express

“Cisneros is a virtuoso. . . [Caramelo] is rich in character and action, people and passions.” —Houston Chronicle

“Remarkable. . . . Caramelo is a book to read slowly and savor and if you can find a listener, to read out loud.” —Santa Fe New Mexican

“Cisneros is such an imaginative storyteller. . . Caramelo engages in a kind of playfulness that is utterly bewitching.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Spellbinding. . . A richly satisfying novel.” —People

“There should be a brand-new language to describe the ways in which [Cisneros] has imbued the ancient art of story-telling with her trademark organization, characterization, evocation of time and place, portrayal of a particular culture, and visionary wisdom. . .You must read this book for yourself, two or three times.” —The Women’s Review of Books

“Cisneros is a wonderful cultural translator, writing English dialogue so saturated with Mexican-Spanish idioms and constructions that you feel like you’ve been magically empowered to eavesdrop in another language.” —The Oregonian

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