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Oscar Hijuelos, the Cuban-American author who became the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1989, has died. He was 62-years-old.
The New York Times reports that he died Saturday in Manhattan. His wife, Lori Marie Carlson, told the Times that he had collapsed on a tennis court and did not retain consciousness.
Hijuelos’ books focused on the immigrant experience and often spanned generations. Our House in the Last World (1983), concentrated on a family from Havana, making their journey to Spanish Harlem. In The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O’Brien (1993), he wrote about a Cuban-Irish family in Pennsylvania.
As Entertainment Weekly notes, his most well-known book is The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, which won him the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1989. That book also focused on immigrants, centering on two brothers who take their music and move to New York from Cuba in the 1950s. The Times notes that a highlight of the book comes when they perform on I Love Lucy.
Hijuelos was born on Aug. 24, 1951 in Manhattan and his parents arrived from Cuba in the 1940s. He never stopped writing and in 2011, he published a memoir titled Thoughts Without Cigarettes.
Mambo Kings was turned into a film in 1992 with Antonio Banderas.