Cuban American novelist Oscar Hijuelos has passed away. He was 62 years old.
He became the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction with The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love in 1989. Hijuelos wrote eight novels and a memoir called Thoughts Without Cigarettes. In an interview about that memoir, the novelist reflected on his early inspiration as a kid growing up in New York City:
I don’t think the New York of my youth did a “better job” of fostering creativity, which comes from within and not from without, but it did offer the average kid a much broader range of choices in terms of affordable and inspiring activities; just about everything was much cheaper. And there were a greater range of interesting mom-and-pop shops to enjoy: For example, I miss the old second-hand bookstores that one could find on Fourth Avenue and getting lost in that world. Surely you can find the same stuff these days on the Internet, but it’s just not as much fun. I can remember how one could walk into the Pierpont Morgan Library for free—now it’s about twenty dollars—and the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a buck or two, or see a Broadway show for ten bucks.