Surname is pronounced "E-way-los"; born August 24, 1951, in New York, NY; died of a heart attack, October 12, 2013, in New York, NY; son of Pascual (a hotel worker) and Magdalena (a homemaker and poet) Hijuelos; married (divorced); married Lori Marie Carlson (a writer and translator), December 12, 1998. Education: Attended Bronx Community College, Lehman College, and Manhattan Community College; City College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1975, M.A., 1976. Avocational Interests: Pen-and-ink drawing, old maps, turn-of-the-century books and graphics, playing musical instruments, jazz.
Writer and educator. Transportation Display, Inc., Winston Network, New York, NY, advertising media traffic manager, 1977-84; Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY, professor of English, beginning 1989; Duke University, Durham, NC, professor of English, beginning 2008.
Outstanding Writer citation, Pushcart Press, 1978, for story "Columbus Discovering America"; Oscar Cintas fiction-writing grant, 1978-79; Bread Loaf Writers Conference scholarship, 1980; fiction-writing grants, Creative Artists Programs Service, 1982, and Ingram Merrill Foundation, 1983; Fellowship for Creative Writers award, National Endowment for the Arts, and American Academy in Rome Fellowship in Literature, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, both 1985, both for Our House in the Last World; National Book Award nomination, National Book Critics Circle Prize nomination, and Pulitzer Prize for fiction, all 1990, all for The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love; Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature, 2000.
- Our House in the Last World, Persea Books (New York, NY), 1983.
- The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1989, 25th anniversary edition, 2015.
- The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1993.
- Mr. Ives' Christmas, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.
- Empress of the Splendid Season, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
- A Simple Habana Melody: From When the World Was Good, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
- Dark Dude (young adult novel), Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2008.
- Beautiful Maria of My Soul (sequel to The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love), Hyperion (New York, NY), 2010.
- Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise, Grand Central (New York, NY), 2015.
- (Designer) Iguana Dreams: New Latino Fiction, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 1992.
- (Editor, with wife, Lori Marie Carlson) Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1994.
- (Editor, with Lori Marie Carlson) Burnt Sugar Caña Quemada: Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish, Free Press (New York, NY), 2006.
- (Contributor) The Metaphorical Dream: The Art of Jaime Vasquez, QCC Art Gallery (Bayside, NY), 2011.
- Thoughts without Cigarettes (memoir), Penguin (New York, NY), 2011.
- Una sencilla melodía habanera (title means "Simple Habana Melody"), Ediciones Sed de Belleza (Santa Clara, Cuba), 2014.
Author of introduction, The Cuban American Family Album, edited by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1996; work represented in the anthology Best of Pushcart Press III, Pushcart, 1978.
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love was released as a sound recording by Dove Audio, 1991, and adapted as the film The Mambo Kings in 1992, starring Antonio Banderas and Armand Assante, and as a stage musical in 2005; Empress of the Splendid Season was adapted for audio, 1999; A Simple Habana Melody: From When the World Was Good was adapted for audio, 2002.
Award-winning novelist Oscar Hijuelos turned the characters and experiences of his Cuban American heritage into fictional works that won both critical and popular praise. Marie Arana-Ward explained in Washington Post Book World: "Once in a great while a novelist emerges who is remarkable not for the particulars of his prose but for the breadth of his soul, the depth of his humanity, and for the precision of his gauge on the rising sensibilities of his time. Hijuelos is one of these."
Hijuelos once explained to CA that his first novel, Our House in the Last World, "traces the lives of a Cuban family who came to the United States in the 1940s and follows them to the death of the father and subsequent near collapse of the family. In many ways a realistic novel, Our House in the Last World also reflects certain Latin attributes that are usually termed 'surreal' or 'magical.' Although I am quite Americanized, my book focuses on many of my feelings about identity and my 'Cubanness.' I intended for my book to commemorate at least a few aspects of the Cuban psyche (as I know it)."
Reviewing Our House in the Last World in the New York Times Book Review, Edith Milton affirmed that Hijuelos is concerned "with questions of identity and perspective," especially those concerning family. In American Literature, Bridget M. Morgan stated: "Hijuelos compassionately depicts how each of the unequal participants in the American Dream is transformed by the process of assimilation." There is a "central tension," Milton explained, between the "lost, misremembered Eden [Cuba]" and the increasing squalor of the family's new life in their "last world"--New York.
"Opportunity seems pure luck" to these well-intentioned immigrants, observed Chicago Tribune Book World reviewer Pat Aufderheide, and in the absence of hope, each ultimately succumbs to the pressures that "work against the [American] dream of upward mobility." Hijuelos's "elegantly accessible style," Aufderheide stated, "combines innocence and insight" in creating the individual voices of his characters. Beyond that, noted the reviewer, there is a "feel for the way fear ... pervades" the Santinios' lives. The characters and the "sheer energy" of the narrative are the book's strengths. Milton concluded that Hijuelos "never loses the syntax of magic, which transforms even the unspeakable into a sort of beauty." Roy Hoffman, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, called Our House in the Last World a "vibrant, bitter and successful" story and compared Hijuelos to an "urban poet" who creates a "colorful clarity of life."
Hijuelos's Pulitzer Prize-winning second novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, moved him to the front rank of American novelists. Telling the story of two brothers, Cesar and Nestor Castillo, who leave their native Cuba and make careers as singers in the Spanish Harlem of the 1950s, the novel traces the brothers' rise to an appearance on the I Love Lucy television show before fading away from public attention again, like the mambo dance their band played.
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Cathleen McGuigan explained in Newsweek, "isn't conventionally plotted; it slides back and forth in time and meanders into dreams and fantasies." The novel is comprised of the dreams and fantasies of Cesar Castillo at the end of his career, when he lives in a rundown hotel called the Splendour and drinks away his days. McGuigan noted that Cesar "is a classic portrait of machismo: he's in closest touch with his feelings when they originate below the waist." She acknowledged, however, that "Hijuelos has a tender touch with his characters, and Cesar is more than a stereotype." McGuigan found The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love to be a "vibrant tragicomic novel." Joseph Coates in the Chicago Tribune Books found echoes of magical realism in the novel and felt that it "achieves the long backward look" of novels such as One Hundred Years of Solitude, "dealing as fully with the old worlds the migrants left as with the new ones they find." Writing in Washington Post Book World, Bob Shacochis also remarked upon Hijuelos's skilled contrasts between Cuban and American life, observing that "his cu-bop music scene gathers credibility as a grand metaphor for the splitting of a national family that took place [with the Cuban revolution] in 1959." Finally, Margo Jefferson, writing in the New York Times Book Review, observed that Hijuelos alternates "crisp narrative with opulent musings," achieving a "music of the heart."
The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien is told from a number of female viewpoints and spans several generations in the life of a Cuban-Irish family living in Pennsylvania. Writing in Time, Janice E. Simpson praised the novel's warmth, suggesting that reading it "is like leafing through the pages of a treasured family album," but she lamented that "the fate of the sisters is determined and defined by their relationships with men." American Literature contributor Bridget Morgan felt that Hijuelos's work "is a celebration, even in its darkest moments, of the strength of love and family." "Hijuelos ... displays a poetic exuberance in The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien," stated George R. McMurray in a World Literature Today review. Jane Mendelsohn, writing in the London Review of Books, generally admired the way Hijuelos characterizes his female characters, observing that "the novel skillfully chronicles the lives" of all the sisters and that Margarita, in particular, is an embodiment of the "women's movement ... in the 20th century." At the same time, Mendelsohn faulted the novel for its sentimentality and concluded that there is "nothing of the glorious flame which set The Mambo Kings on fire." Nick Hornby in the Times Literary Supplement called the novel "at all times readable and diverting," but found that its many characters bog down its pacing. In contrast, a Washington Post Book World contributor praised the story for its celebration of "human diversity and its promise of vitality," as well as for its compelling characters, who "hold us captive until the very last page."
With the short novel Mr. Ives' Christmas, Hijuelos steps away from his trademark theme of ethnic identity. Edward Ives, the book's chief protagonist, is a foundling of unknown background who is raised by nuns in a New York City orphanage. After several years pass, he is adopted by a man who inspires in Edward a deep and lasting love for Catholicism. When Edward enters adulthood, he works for a Madison Avenue advertising agency and is quite successful in his profession. He marries a wonderful woman, Annie MacGuire, and they have a healthy son, Robert, and a younger daughter. Their lives proceed for nearly two decades in a seemingly perfect, secure routine. This peace is shattered, however, a few days before one Christmas, when seventeen-year-old Robert is killed by a hoodlum. Edward's belief in God and his Catholic faith are deeply shaken by this meaningless murder, and the book traces how he comes to terms with Robert's death. Writing in Booklist, Donna Seaman called Mr. Ives' Christmas a "sad and enchanting novel ... of giving and of grace." In a New York Times Book Review article, Jack Miles stated that he felt that the novel is Hijuelos's "deepest and ... best."
Empress of the Splendid Season features a young woman of aristocratic Cuban descent who is banished from her home when her father discovers her romantic involvement with an older man. Lydia leaves Cuba for New York City, where she meets and marries Raul, another Cuban immigrant. Raul supports Lydia and their two children, Rico and Alicia, by working as a waiter in two restaurants, until he suffers a nearly fatal heart attack. Lydia must then go to work, and as she is not fluent in English, she decides to hire herself out as a housekeeper. The novel reveals not only Lydia's daily work, but her relationship to her clients. There is one whom she particularly likes--an international lawyer named Mr. Osprey, who intervenes in Rico's life when the boy is in trouble.
"While Empress of the Splendid Season does share similarities with Hijuelos's earlier work," wrote Joseph M. Viera in American Writers, "it nevertheless showcases the talents of a more mature, more seasoned author, as evidenced in the novel's compassionate narrative voice." London Sunday Times writer Phil Baker praised Hijuelos for his "lyrical ... use of language" and his characterization of Lydia's inner life. "Hijuelos's achingly sweet novel captures beautifully the stateliness, strength and raw sensuality of Lydia España," wrote reviewer Barbara Mujica in an Américas article. Mujica concluded her review by writing that "Hijuelos transcends stereotypes and cliches, creating characters who speak to us on a profoundly human level."
Hijuelos introduces factual occurrences into his fictional rendition of A Simple Habana Melody: From When the World Was Good. The character of Israel Levis is loosely based upon the life of Cuban composer Moises Simons, who brought the rumba rhythm to the United States with his 1930 song "The Peanut Vendor." Levis writes a song called "Rosas Puras," basing it on a flower vendor's street call. His song becomes world famous due to a rendition by a Cuban songstress, Rita Valladares, whom Levis loves, unrequited, throughout his life. Hijuelos traces Levis's journeys from Cuba to Paris, where Cuban jazz musicians are highly welcome, to the Buchenwald concentration camp (he is mistaken for a Jew because of his relationship with a Jewish woman and because of his given name) and back to Cuba again.
Several reviewers commented on Hijuelos's novel. "This is a painfully sad novel about a sad man," wrote Mary Ann Horne in the Orlando Sentinel. She added that "Hijuelos restrains his lyrical prose almost to the end of the book but sets it free as he sends Levis off to the afterlife." In the Miami Herald, Fabiola Santiago commented that "A Simple Habana Melody is a love story to be enjoyed for its lyrical writing and desperately old-fashioned texture." Santiago found Valladares's character "too flatly portrayed," although she may have been "potentially more interesting ... than Levis." "A Simple Habana Melody is ... introspective, melancholy and sweetly elegiac," remarked Jerome Weeks in the Dallas Morning News.
New York Times Book Review contributor Daniel Zalewski wrote of A Simple Habana Melody that the novel's "language ... is consistently muted" in comparison to that of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Zalewski opined: "The result of all this linguistic tiptoeing is a melancholy, and sometimes wan, novel about the fruits and frustrations of repression." In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch review, Patricia Corrigan wrote that Valladares's character is insufficiently developed to warrant Levis's attachment to her. She also questioned the insertion of a small incident when Levis seems attracted to the physical appearance of a man, noting that "the references to homosexual tendencies read as though tacked on." Nonetheless, Corrigan added, "as always, Hijuelos's powers of description are masterful, even lyrical, and occasionally droll, sometimes all at once."
"This heartbreaking novel laments lost love while it helps us remember how love felt when we were young," commented Booklist reviewer Bill Ott of A Simple Habana Melody. Allan Turner, writing in the Houston Chronicle, opined that "Hijuelos perhaps resolves his novel a bit too neatly," but he noted that the novel's "bittersweet strains will resonate long after the last page is turned." A Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that the author "triumphs in capturing the sights and sounds of Habana at the edge of modernity," while a Kirkus Reviews contributor dubbed the book a "masterpiece of history, music, wonder and sorrow."
Dark Dude is Hijuelos's first young adult novel. It features fifteen-year-old Rico Fuentes, a Cuban boy who appears to be Caucasian. The fair-haired, freckle-faced teen has inherited the traits of an Irish ancestor and is miserable in 1970s Spanish Harlem, where he is viewed as an outsider and hassled and victimized by others who think he is white and has money. Rico's white skin is an invitation to be robbed. His family life is not much better. His mother and father threaten to send Rico to an uncle's military academy in Florida to get him away from the drug and gun culture in which they live, and his mother, who pretends not to understand English, blames Rico for the childhood illness that she claims put them in debt. His father works two jobs, but he drinks away much of his pay.
Puerto Rican Gilberto Flores, one of Rico's older friends, has moved to Wisconsin to attend Milton College with his lottery winnings, and Rico convinces his friend Jimmy, who is losing his life to drugs, to go to rural Wisconsin with him. Jimmy has been illustrating Rico's comic creations, starring superheroes like "El Gato" and the "Latin Dagger." Rico is inspired by the character of Huckleberry Finn, as well as by Gilberto, who has improved his own life.
A reviewer on the Y.A. New York Web site advised that the Mark Twain novel be read in preparation for reading Dark Dude, noting that there are many references to Huck Finn "throughout his fantastic novel, and this story is kind of like a modern-day Huck Finn, and you'll understand why once you've read both. ... It's also beautifully written, and an enormous pleasure to read. Heartbreaking, as the best stories always are."
Rico and Jimmy hitchhike across many states to find the farm where Gilberto and his friends, mostly artists and students, have formed a commune. Rico finds a job at a gas station, continues to write his comic books, and meets Sheri, who helps him get his high school diploma. He searches for a sense of self, but he ultimately realizes that "where you are doesn't change who you are."
Matt Berman reviewed Dark Dude on the Common Sense Media Web site, writing that it "has more coolness and emotional distance than most YA books, the pages fly by, and it's engrossing from beginning to end. They don't give that Pulitzer for nothing--the man can write." Los Angeles Times reviewer Susan Carpenter commented that although the story is set during the time when its author was a teen, "Dark Dude, with its references to teen drug addiction, school violence, budding sexuality and strong racial themes, feels very much as if it were taking place in the present day." Carpenter also complimented the publisher for giving young adults the opportunity to read this inspirational Latino novel. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "it's the smooth, jazzy flow of the narration, the slides between Rico's rootlessness and the book's strong sense of place that count."
Beautiful Maria of My Soul is a sequel to The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. The title of the novel doubles as the title of a song that Nestor Castillo, a character in the novel, writes about his long lost love. Reviewing the work on the Book Page Web site, Susan Schwartzman stated: "An affecting portrait of broken dreams and regret, hope and despair, rediscovery and renewal, [Beautiful Maria of My Soul] ties up the loose ends of a love story." USA Today contributor Bob Minzesheimer remarked: "Hijuelos's new novel ... retells that story through the eyes, ears and tears of the lady behind a famous song, Maria Garcia y Cifuentes. The novel is more than a sequel and can be read on its own. But it's a mixed success." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "an intelligent and playful ending caps off a vivid story that should delight readers of The Mambo Kings." Booklist contributor David Pitt called the book "a rich and compelling performance."
In his posthumous novel, Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise, Hijuelos offers a fictionalized account of the real friendship between writer Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) and explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley. The volume includes fabricated journal entries and letters between the two men. Twain and Stanley meet on a steamship in Mississippi and come together again while on lecture tours. They eventually travel to Cuba together. Though the two men differ in temperament, Twain and Stanley have similarities, including their appreciation of their respective families, their survival of personal tragedies, and their opposition to slavery.
The novel received mixed reviews. Joanna Scott, a contributor to the online version of the New York Times Book Review, commented: "Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise is not the equal of Hijuelos's finest work. It is best understood as a project that will always be in progress, energized by its potential, its sections captured in the midst of being revised and arranged by a writer who knew how to keep his readers enthralled." "Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise is a novel that makes you appreciate--unfortunately, by its absence--the magic that animates Hijuelos' best work," asserted a critic on National Public Radio Online. Writing on the Boston Globe Web site, Jan Stuart suggested: "While we marvel at the author's resourcefulness, the herky jerky flow of perspectives results in an all-over-the-place-ness that curtails the narrative's momentum and power. At day's end, Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise delivers as an erudite vaudeville of turn-of-the-century superstars ... and a self-effacing swan song for a gifted novelist who, in modulating his singular voice to harmonize with those of his fabled subjects, seems to be meditating upon his own place in the pantheon." BookPage reviewer Michael Magras remarked: "Descriptions go on for too long, and dialogue often sounds written rather than spoken. Despite its flaws, however, the book entertains." James Coan, a contributor to Library Journal, opined: "Well written and engaging, this novel may lack some of the fire of the author's best-known work, but it is a intriguing entry." "Although the book feels unbalanced in places due to its unusual cobbled-together structure, it's an extraordinary feat of imaginative historical recreation," stated Sarah Johnson in Booklist.
Hijuelos has also served as an editor and book designer. He and his wife, Lori Marie Carlson, edited Burnt Sugar Caña Quemada: Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish, a collection of poems that celebrates "essential Cubanness." It was inspired by their 2002 trip to Cuba, where they saw the extremes of wealth and poverty that have long been obvious within the Cuban culture. The poems are not political; rather they are simply written, expressing the emotion of an exiled people.
Janet St. John wrote in Booklist: "The collection is filled with seduction as well as prayer, death plus joy, beauty, and pain." A reviewer in Latino Leaders commented that the emotion and depth of the poetry is not lost in the translation, opining: "That's truly a beautiful thing, and a testament to the poet's ability to communicate in a truly universal way."
Turning to nonfiction in Thoughts without Cigarettes Hijuelos presents a memoir that reflects on his Cuban-American heritage and his search for belonging in a Cuban community that found him to be too American and an American society that found him to be too Cuban. Hijuelos also writes of his visits to Cuba with his mother as a child; one such sojourn led to nephritis (a near-terminal kidney infection) and a long convalescence. He spent a year in a children's hospice and found the experience traumatic and alienating. Hijuelos goes on to write of his transition to adulthood and his early literary career, sharing anecdotes about the writing of some of his most famous novels. The author told Ray Suarez in an interview posted on the PBS Newshour Web site: "You want to leave the reader with a strong sense of an emotional world, but you also have to be more fact-reliant, and also you have to prioritize about those events in your life, and you have to pass judgment." Lauding this approach in the Los Angeles Times, Hector Tobar exclaimed: "Thoughts without Cigarettes is a wonderfully intimate epic and also an essential document of the evolution of American literature. It tells the story of an American neighborhood and of the young man who was born there, who looked inside himself and found books waiting to be written." Agnes Torres Al-Shibibi, writing in the Seattle Times, was also impressed, pointing out Hijuelos's battle with nephritis and declaring that he "writes touchingly and even with humor of this tragic episode, as he does about the rest of his life."
FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
- American Literature, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999.
- American Writers, Supplement 8, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
- Contemporary Hispanic Biography, Volume 1, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.
- Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 65, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.
- Contemporary Novelists, 7th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.
- Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 145: Modern Latin-American Fiction Writers, Second Series, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.
- Hijuelos, Oscar, Thoughts without Cigarettes, Penguin (New York, NY), 2011.
- Américas, July, 1999, Barbara Mujica, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 62.
- Booklist, October 1, 1995, Donna Seaman, review of Mr. Ives' Christmas; August, 1999, review of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, p. 2024; May 1, 2002, Bill Ott, review of A Simple Habana Melody: From When the World Was Good, p. 1445; January 1, 2003, review of A Simple Habana Melody, p. 792; August 1, 2006, Janet St. John, review of Burnt Sugar Caña Quemada: Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish, p. 29; November 1, 2008, Gillian Engberg, review of Dark Dude, p. 43; April 15, 2010, Bill Ott, review of Beautiful Maria of My Soul, p. 4; November 1, 2010, David Pitt, review of Beautiful Maria of My Soul, p. 37; September 15, 2015, Sarah Johnson, review of Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise, p. 37.
- BookPage, November, 2015, Michael Magras, review of Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise, p. 36.
- Chicago Tribune Book World, July 17, 1983, Pat Aufderheide, review of Our House in the Last World.
- Dallas Morning News, July 3, 2002, Jerome Weeks, review of A Simple Habana Melody.
- Hispanic, June, 2002, Fabiola Santiago, review of A Simple Habana Melody, p. 58.
- Houston Chronicle, March 6, 1999, Joan Ann Zuniga, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 41; June 23, 2002, Allan Turner, review of A Simple Habana Melody, p. 16.
- Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2002, review of A Simple Habana Melody, p. 359; September 1, 2008, review of Dark Dude; September 1, 2015, review of Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise.
- Kliatt, September, 2008, Janis Flint-Ferguson, review of Dark Dude, p. 12.
- Latino Leaders, August-September, 2006, review of Burnt Sugar Caña Quemada, p. 51.
- Library Journal, January, 1999, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 150; April 1, 2002, review of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, p. 168; May 1, 2002, review of A Simple Habana Melody, p. 133; April 15, 2010, Lawrence Olszewski, review of Beautiful Maria of My Soul, p. 74; January, 2011, "Prepub Alert," p. 59; October 15, 2015, James Coan, review of Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise, p. 73.
- London Review of Books, September 23, 1993, Jane Mendelsohn, review of The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien, p. 23.
- Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2011, Hector Tobar, review of Thoughts without Cigarettes.
- Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 7, 1999, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 3.
- Miami Herald, May 29, 2002, Fabiola Santiago, review of A Simple Habana Melody.
- Newsweek, August 21, 1989, Cathleen McGuigan, review of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, p. 60.
- New York Times, February 5, 1999, Michiko Kakutani, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. E45; July 3, 2010, "'Mambo' Author Returns to His Muse," p. 1.
- New York Times Book Review, October 21, 1984, Edith Milton, review of Our House in the Last World, p. 60; August 27, 1989, Margo Jefferson, review of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, pp. 1, 30; March 7, 1993, Thomas Mallon, review of The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien, p. 6; December 3, 1995, Jack Miles, review of Mr. Ives' Christmas, p. 9; February 21, 1999, Verlyn Klinkenborg, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 5; June 23, 2002, Daniel Zalewski, review of A Simple Habana Melody, p. 11; July 7, 2002, review of A Simple Habana Melody, p. 18.
- Observer (London, England), February 21, 1999, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 13; December 19, 1999, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 14.
- Oregonian (Portland, OR), June 10, 2011, Marc Covert, review of Thoughts without Cigarettes.
- Orlando Sentinel, July 31, 2002, Mary Ann Horne, review of A Simple Habana Melody.
- Philadelphia Inquirer, July 17, 1983, Roy Hoffman, review of Our House in the Last World.
- Publishers Weekly, February 1, 1999, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 35; May 20, 2002, review of A Simple Habana Melody, p. 46; September 1, 2008, review of Dark Dude, p. 3; March 8, 2010, review of Beautiful Maria of My Soul, p. 31; September 7, 2015, review of Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise, p. 44.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 16, 2002, Patricia Corrigan, review of A Simple Habana Melody, p. F10.
- School Library Journal, November, 2008, Terri Clark, review of Dark Dude, p. 124.
- Seattle Times, May 28, 2011, Agnes Torres Al-Shibibi, review of Thoughts without Cigarettes.
- Spectator, February 27, 1999, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 37.
- Sunday Times (London, England), December 12, 1999, Phil Baker, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 45.
- Time, March 29, 1993, Janice E. Simpson, review of The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien, pp. 63, 65; March 15, 1999, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 92.
- Times Literary Supplement, August 6, 1993, Nick Hornby, review of The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien, p. 19; February 19, 1999, Henry Hitchings, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 22.
- Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), August 13, 1989, Joseph Coates, review of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, p. 6; January 3, 1993, review of The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien, p. 6.
- USA Today, July 8, 2010, "'Beautiful Maria': A Love Story, Irresistible but Unfulfilled," p. 5.
- Wall Street Journal, February 5, 1999, Wendy Bounds, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. W10.
- Washington Post Book World, August 20, 1989, Bob Shacochis, review of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, p. 1; March 14, 1993, review of The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien, pp. 1, 10; January 31, 1999, review of Empress of the Splendid Season, p. 5.
- World Literature Today, winter, 1994, George R. McMurray, review of The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien, p. 127.
- American Society of Authors and Writers Web site, http://www.amsaw.org/ (August 10, 2009), author profile.
- Biography Channel, http://www.biography.com/ (February 21, 2012), author profile.
- Bookpage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (June 1, 2010), Susan Schwartzman, review of Beautiful Maria of My Soul.
- Boston Globe Online, https://www.bostonglobe.com/ (October 31, 2015), Jan Stuart, review of Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise.
- Common Sense Media, http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ (August 10, 2009), Matt Berman, review of Dark Dude.
- Los Angeles Times Online, http://www.latimes.com/ (November 2, 2008), Susan Carpenter, review of Dark Dude.
- National Public Radio Online, http://www.npr.org/ (November 3, 2015), review of Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise.
- New York Daily News Online, http://www.nydailynews.com/ (August 5, 2010), Carlos Rodríguez Martorell, review of Beautiful Maria of My Soul.
- New York Times Book Review Online, http://www.nytimes.com/ (December 8, 2015), Joanna Scott, review of Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise.
- PBS Newshour Web site, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ (February 20, 2012), Ray Suarez, author interview.
- Y.A. New York, http://www.yanewyork.com/ (September 12, 2008), review of Dark Dude.
- Guardian Online, https://www.theguardian.com/ (October 14, 2013).
- New York Times Book Review Online, http://www.nytimes.com/ (October 13, 2013), Bruce Weber.
- Washington Post Book World Online, https://www.washingtonpost.com/ (October 14, 2013), Matt Schudel.*