Born: August 24, 1951; Died: October 12, 2013.
Oscar Hijuelos, who has died aged 62, was a Cuban-American novelist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1989 novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love, which was made into a film starring Antonio Banderas.
He wrote about the non-native experience in the United States and his work often captured the losses and triumphs of the Cuban immigrant experience.
The Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love became a best-seller and earned him international acclaim. He won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1990, making him the first Hispanic writer to receive that honour.
The novel tells the story of two Cuban brothers who journey from Havana to New York to start an orchestra. At one point in the story, the brothers appear on the television comedy I Love Lucy, which starred Lucille Ball and her Cuban bandleader husband, Desi Arnaz.
In his 2011 memoir, Thoughts Without Cigarettes, Hijuelos told how he struggled against being labelled an ethnic writer and noted that despite the number of talented authors, there are few other Latinos even today whose work has the same recognition.
He was born and raised in New York and enrolled in local community colleges, where an array of early writing teachers - Susan Sontag, Donald Barthelme and Frederic Tuten - encouraged him to pursue his craft. He was also exposed to Cuban and Latin American writers including Jose Lezama Lima, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Carlos Fuentes, whose work inspired him.
His other novels include Our House In The Last World, Empress Of The Splendid Season, and Dark Dude.
After a trip with his mother to Cuba as a young child, he became ill with a kidney disease and was in hospital for a year, during which he lost his Spanish-speaking ability, and never truly recovered it.
"For the longest time, all I would know was that I had gotten sick in Cuba, from Cuban microbios, that the illness had blossomed in the land of my forebears, the country where I had once been loved and whose language fell as music on my ears," Hijuelos wrote.
"Of course, diseases happen anywhere, and children get sick under any circumstances, but what I would hear for years afterward from my mother was that something Cuban had nearly killed me and, in the process of my healing, would turn my own Cubaness into air."
It was an experience of displacement and a never-ending inability to reach an identity he inherited that many Cubans of his generation could understand.
It also defined much of his development as a writer, as he initially hesitated to embrace his story and that of his family as a source of inspiration for his fictional characters - he was too ashamed to put them on paper, believing the world was indifferent to his tale.
He is survived by his wife Lori Marie.
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