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The coming-of-age classic, acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught in schools and universities alike, and translated around the world.

The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes—sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous—Sandra Cisneros’ masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

Selected for Common Reading in the following communities:
Chicago, IL 
The State of Arkansas 
Escondido, CA 
Los Angeles, CA 
Pico Rivera, CA 
Sonoma County, CA 
Jacksonville, FL 
Miami, FL
Multnomah County,OR
Brazo Valley, TX
College Station-Bryan, TX
El Paso, TX
Milwaukee, WI

Selected for Common Reading at the following colleges and universities:
Augsburg College
California State University – Bakersfield
Carleton College
Chaffey College
College of Southern Nevada
Columbia College Chicago
Indiana University Northwest
Lane Community College
Naugatuck Valley Community College
Oakland City University
Rasmussen College
Santa Ana College
SUNY Fredonia
University of St. Thomas
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Valparaiso University
Washington & Lee University
from the Introduction by John Phillip Santos


When we meet Esperanza Cordero, the almost mystically knowing young Chicana narrator of The House on Mango Street, she is already very much a canny teller of tales, speaking in medias res, in the midst of an unfolding story of her heroic quest to find a true home.

“We didn’t always live on Mango Street,” she begins. She details a litany of her family’s peregrinajes through previous houses in Chicago, as if reading from some codex memorializing a series of sacred migrations: “Before that we lived on Loomis on the third floor, and before that we lived on Keeler. Before Keeler it was Paulina, and before that I can’t remember. But what I remember is moving a lot. Each time it seemed there’d be one more of us. By the time we got to Mango Street we were six – Mama, Papa, Carlos, Kiki, my sister Nenny and me.”

Involuntary peregrinations and deprivations spark Esperanza’s imagination. Her family has had to leave their previous residence when the “water pipes broke and the landlord wouldn’t fi x them because the house was too old. We had to leave fast.” Esperanza dreams of a house with “running water and pipes that worked.” She imagines a house with “three washrooms so when we took a bath we wouldn’t have to tell everybody.” It would be a white house, surrounded by a proper yard with trees and grass. “This was the house Papa talked about when he held a lottery ticket and this was the house Mama dreamed up in the stories she told us before we went to bed.”

But as Esperanza candidly reveals, the family’s new house on Mango Street only has one bathroom, and “Everybody has to share a bedroom – Mama and Papa, Carlos and Kiki, me and Nenny.”

“I knew then I had to have a house. A real house. One I could point to. But this isn’t it. The house on Mango Street isn’t it.” And then, fathoming her disappointment and longing, Esperanza takes us into her confidence, she shares something that is beyond an intuition – it’s a glimpse at a secret, deeper knowing of unknown origin that will propel and inflect the unforgettable stories that are to come: “For the time being, Mama says. Temporary, says Papa. But I know how those things go.”

How can she know this? How can such she already know the way things go? And why is she offering us her testimonio?

It’s Esperanza’s ineluctable knowing and her indelible way of expressing it which transfi xes readers around the globe with a universal human story of a young girl’s becoming, establishing The House on Mango Street over decades as the first Latinx American classic of world letters. Seven million copies have been sold in the United States, and millions more abroad, in as many as twenty-six translations. Notably, it is also the fi rst book by a US-born Latinx writer to be included in the legendary and august Everyman’s Library series, auspicious indeed for the author and the book – as well as for the series. And as celebrated as the novel has been in the forty years since its publication, it’s important to point out that despite wide adoption in school curricula, it has also been banned from schools in numerous fl ashpoints during America’s recent and ongoing culture wars, officially cited for “age appropriateness” – but it’s Esperanza’s searing powers of observation, and her “knowing” of the world around her, especially coming from a young Chicana, that seem to strike fear in some people’s hearts.

As the author of The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros brings a profound new embrace of a unique literary legacy of the Americas to the Everyman series, as an American writer who is mestiza, feminista, urbana, cosmopolitana, and sin vergüenza – all without shame.

Esperanza’s limpid voice, her deceptively simple diction, her unique lyrical vernacular, belie a profound understanding of the complex intricacies of our humanity that can’t be fully explained, but it has deep roots in the experiences, readings, and understandings of the author, herself an oracle of a knowing that eludes explanation.

*

I met Sandra Cisneros in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas in 1983, just before the publication of The House on Mango Street by a small Latino publishing house in Houston, Arte Público Press, that first published works of now well-known Latinx writers, as well as “lost” Latinx literary works. Vivacious, loquacious, and audacious, with an electric halo of ebony curls, she was by then entirely a protean whirlwind of literary marvel. She was just back from a walkabout across Europe (including four months in Yugoslavia), and the Mediterranean. Both of us were aspiring writers, but her aspirations were feverishly inquisitive, passionate and opinionated, volubly rooted in a commitment to writing as an act of bounding invention, and social conscience. A poet and fiction writer, she possessed a documentary eye that saw the many ways the world oppressed the poor and the marginalized.

She was a force unlike any I’d yet encountered, determined to use her gifts to sow new seeds in the fallow fi elds of American letters, so long ignorant and dismissive of voices like hers. And Chicanx letters, the work of Mexican American writers, were in an uncertain, in-between moment, emerging from a rich movimiento history into we-knew-not-yet what was to come.

As fate would have it, we were the finalists to become the inaugural Director of the literature program at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, a newly created haven for Mexican American arts, literature, music, and theater in my hometown of San Antonio. Sandra (forgive the familiarity, but to refer to her any other way feels fake) got the job, but in meeting her then, I gained a lifelong literary ally, interlocutor, mentor, and occasional conspirator.

I had learned much from powerful women writers. I grew up with the poet Naomi Shihab Nye, had carried on a fraught correspondence with Laura (Riding) Jackson, and now Sandra arrived in San Antonio with a spell-binding sense of her own destiny, a destiny that would shortly unfold further in grand ways that were somehow against all odds while possessing a certain inevitability. She was an inspiration, and indeed, in three-hundred-year-old San Antonio she would eventually become La Sandra, a transforming presence for the city, and eventually for American literature.

It would take a while yet for the world to fully take note of The House on Mango Street, the mesmerizing testimonio of the journey of Esperanza Cordero among the souls and spaces of her Chicago neighborhood, as she struggles to assert her place in the world, as she longs for the dreamed-of house of her own. The path of this now universally classic novel to this Everyman’s Library edition would be lengthy, and bumpy.

After the book’s initial publication by the Houston small press, Sandra met her agent and forever since dharma companion Susan Bergholz. It was with the eventual publication of The House on Mango Street by Vintage Books in 1989 that the novel would begin to find its staggering, first national, then ever-widening global readership. But that wasn’t thanks to any career-forging reviews in major newspapers or literary journals, virtually all of whom maintained their studied inattention and ignored the book. I remember it more as a gradually rising tide of word-of-mouth revelations, people passing the book along to one another like the talisman of a new reckoning with ourselves.

Like my thirteen-year-old daughter Francesca, who recently read the copy I handed her for the first time, after which she shared: “As a young Latina who is still figuring out everything, this book gave me so many ways to relate to the young protagonist. I saw myself in her, and I think many other girls my age could too. The feeling of not wanting to be contained – to not be limited to the things we get to do, say, or experience. The longing for more is something I cannot only greatly appreciate, but also deeply understand. I loved this book because usually when adults try to get into the minds of children, it’s a colossal fail. It’s unrealistic – and can even feel like they’re mocking us. It just doesn’t sit right. Sandra goes into the minds of children in a realistic way, adding beautiful touches of vibrant culture that makes me proud to be a Mexican American.”

You get it? Literally millions have shared this experience, and this is a book that continues to light up souls.
“A classic. . . . This little book has made a great space for itself on the shelf of American literature.” —Julia Alvarez
 
Afortunado! Lucky! Lucky the generation who grew up with Esperanza and The House on Mango Street. And lucky future readers. This funny, beautiful book will always be with us.” —Maxine Hong Kingston
 
“Cisneros draws on her rich [Latino] heritage . . . and seduces with precise, spare prose, creat[ing] unforgettable characters we want to lift off the page. She is not only a gifted writer, but an absolutely essential one.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“Marvelous . . . spare yet luminous. The subtle power of Cisneros’s storytelling is evident. She communicates all the rapture and rage of growing up in a modern world.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A deeply moving novel...delightful and poignant. . . . Like the best of poetry, it opens the windows of the heart without a wasted word.” —Miami Herald
 
“Sandra Cisneros is one of the most brillant of today’s young writers. Her work is sensitive, alert, nuanceful . . . rich with music and picture.” —Gwendolyn Brooks
© 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

Sandra Cisneros - Early Life

Sandra Cisneros - Community Activism

Educator Guide for The House on Mango Street

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

About

The coming-of-age classic, acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught in schools and universities alike, and translated around the world.

The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes—sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous—Sandra Cisneros’ masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

Selected for Common Reading in the following communities:
Chicago, IL 
The State of Arkansas 
Escondido, CA 
Los Angeles, CA 
Pico Rivera, CA 
Sonoma County, CA 
Jacksonville, FL 
Miami, FL
Multnomah County,OR
Brazo Valley, TX
College Station-Bryan, TX
El Paso, TX
Milwaukee, WI

Selected for Common Reading at the following colleges and universities:
Augsburg College
California State University – Bakersfield
Carleton College
Chaffey College
College of Southern Nevada
Columbia College Chicago
Indiana University Northwest
Lane Community College
Naugatuck Valley Community College
Oakland City University
Rasmussen College
Santa Ana College
SUNY Fredonia
University of St. Thomas
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Valparaiso University
Washington & Lee University

Excerpt

from the Introduction by John Phillip Santos


When we meet Esperanza Cordero, the almost mystically knowing young Chicana narrator of The House on Mango Street, she is already very much a canny teller of tales, speaking in medias res, in the midst of an unfolding story of her heroic quest to find a true home.

“We didn’t always live on Mango Street,” she begins. She details a litany of her family’s peregrinajes through previous houses in Chicago, as if reading from some codex memorializing a series of sacred migrations: “Before that we lived on Loomis on the third floor, and before that we lived on Keeler. Before Keeler it was Paulina, and before that I can’t remember. But what I remember is moving a lot. Each time it seemed there’d be one more of us. By the time we got to Mango Street we were six – Mama, Papa, Carlos, Kiki, my sister Nenny and me.”

Involuntary peregrinations and deprivations spark Esperanza’s imagination. Her family has had to leave their previous residence when the “water pipes broke and the landlord wouldn’t fi x them because the house was too old. We had to leave fast.” Esperanza dreams of a house with “running water and pipes that worked.” She imagines a house with “three washrooms so when we took a bath we wouldn’t have to tell everybody.” It would be a white house, surrounded by a proper yard with trees and grass. “This was the house Papa talked about when he held a lottery ticket and this was the house Mama dreamed up in the stories she told us before we went to bed.”

But as Esperanza candidly reveals, the family’s new house on Mango Street only has one bathroom, and “Everybody has to share a bedroom – Mama and Papa, Carlos and Kiki, me and Nenny.”

“I knew then I had to have a house. A real house. One I could point to. But this isn’t it. The house on Mango Street isn’t it.” And then, fathoming her disappointment and longing, Esperanza takes us into her confidence, she shares something that is beyond an intuition – it’s a glimpse at a secret, deeper knowing of unknown origin that will propel and inflect the unforgettable stories that are to come: “For the time being, Mama says. Temporary, says Papa. But I know how those things go.”

How can she know this? How can such she already know the way things go? And why is she offering us her testimonio?

It’s Esperanza’s ineluctable knowing and her indelible way of expressing it which transfi xes readers around the globe with a universal human story of a young girl’s becoming, establishing The House on Mango Street over decades as the first Latinx American classic of world letters. Seven million copies have been sold in the United States, and millions more abroad, in as many as twenty-six translations. Notably, it is also the fi rst book by a US-born Latinx writer to be included in the legendary and august Everyman’s Library series, auspicious indeed for the author and the book – as well as for the series. And as celebrated as the novel has been in the forty years since its publication, it’s important to point out that despite wide adoption in school curricula, it has also been banned from schools in numerous fl ashpoints during America’s recent and ongoing culture wars, officially cited for “age appropriateness” – but it’s Esperanza’s searing powers of observation, and her “knowing” of the world around her, especially coming from a young Chicana, that seem to strike fear in some people’s hearts.

As the author of The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros brings a profound new embrace of a unique literary legacy of the Americas to the Everyman series, as an American writer who is mestiza, feminista, urbana, cosmopolitana, and sin vergüenza – all without shame.

Esperanza’s limpid voice, her deceptively simple diction, her unique lyrical vernacular, belie a profound understanding of the complex intricacies of our humanity that can’t be fully explained, but it has deep roots in the experiences, readings, and understandings of the author, herself an oracle of a knowing that eludes explanation.

*

I met Sandra Cisneros in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas in 1983, just before the publication of The House on Mango Street by a small Latino publishing house in Houston, Arte Público Press, that first published works of now well-known Latinx writers, as well as “lost” Latinx literary works. Vivacious, loquacious, and audacious, with an electric halo of ebony curls, she was by then entirely a protean whirlwind of literary marvel. She was just back from a walkabout across Europe (including four months in Yugoslavia), and the Mediterranean. Both of us were aspiring writers, but her aspirations were feverishly inquisitive, passionate and opinionated, volubly rooted in a commitment to writing as an act of bounding invention, and social conscience. A poet and fiction writer, she possessed a documentary eye that saw the many ways the world oppressed the poor and the marginalized.

She was a force unlike any I’d yet encountered, determined to use her gifts to sow new seeds in the fallow fi elds of American letters, so long ignorant and dismissive of voices like hers. And Chicanx letters, the work of Mexican American writers, were in an uncertain, in-between moment, emerging from a rich movimiento history into we-knew-not-yet what was to come.

As fate would have it, we were the finalists to become the inaugural Director of the literature program at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, a newly created haven for Mexican American arts, literature, music, and theater in my hometown of San Antonio. Sandra (forgive the familiarity, but to refer to her any other way feels fake) got the job, but in meeting her then, I gained a lifelong literary ally, interlocutor, mentor, and occasional conspirator.

I had learned much from powerful women writers. I grew up with the poet Naomi Shihab Nye, had carried on a fraught correspondence with Laura (Riding) Jackson, and now Sandra arrived in San Antonio with a spell-binding sense of her own destiny, a destiny that would shortly unfold further in grand ways that were somehow against all odds while possessing a certain inevitability. She was an inspiration, and indeed, in three-hundred-year-old San Antonio she would eventually become La Sandra, a transforming presence for the city, and eventually for American literature.

It would take a while yet for the world to fully take note of The House on Mango Street, the mesmerizing testimonio of the journey of Esperanza Cordero among the souls and spaces of her Chicago neighborhood, as she struggles to assert her place in the world, as she longs for the dreamed-of house of her own. The path of this now universally classic novel to this Everyman’s Library edition would be lengthy, and bumpy.

After the book’s initial publication by the Houston small press, Sandra met her agent and forever since dharma companion Susan Bergholz. It was with the eventual publication of The House on Mango Street by Vintage Books in 1989 that the novel would begin to find its staggering, first national, then ever-widening global readership. But that wasn’t thanks to any career-forging reviews in major newspapers or literary journals, virtually all of whom maintained their studied inattention and ignored the book. I remember it more as a gradually rising tide of word-of-mouth revelations, people passing the book along to one another like the talisman of a new reckoning with ourselves.

Like my thirteen-year-old daughter Francesca, who recently read the copy I handed her for the first time, after which she shared: “As a young Latina who is still figuring out everything, this book gave me so many ways to relate to the young protagonist. I saw myself in her, and I think many other girls my age could too. The feeling of not wanting to be contained – to not be limited to the things we get to do, say, or experience. The longing for more is something I cannot only greatly appreciate, but also deeply understand. I loved this book because usually when adults try to get into the minds of children, it’s a colossal fail. It’s unrealistic – and can even feel like they’re mocking us. It just doesn’t sit right. Sandra goes into the minds of children in a realistic way, adding beautiful touches of vibrant culture that makes me proud to be a Mexican American.”

You get it? Literally millions have shared this experience, and this is a book that continues to light up souls.

Praise

“A classic. . . . This little book has made a great space for itself on the shelf of American literature.” —Julia Alvarez
 
Afortunado! Lucky! Lucky the generation who grew up with Esperanza and The House on Mango Street. And lucky future readers. This funny, beautiful book will always be with us.” —Maxine Hong Kingston
 
“Cisneros draws on her rich [Latino] heritage . . . and seduces with precise, spare prose, creat[ing] unforgettable characters we want to lift off the page. She is not only a gifted writer, but an absolutely essential one.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“Marvelous . . . spare yet luminous. The subtle power of Cisneros’s storytelling is evident. She communicates all the rapture and rage of growing up in a modern world.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A deeply moving novel...delightful and poignant. . . . Like the best of poetry, it opens the windows of the heart without a wasted word.” —Miami Herald
 
“Sandra Cisneros is one of the most brillant of today’s young writers. Her work is sensitive, alert, nuanceful . . . rich with music and picture.” —Gwendolyn Brooks

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

Media

Sandra Cisneros - Early Life

Sandra Cisneros - Community Activism

Guides

Educator Guide for The House on Mango Street

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

Videos from the 2024 First-Year Experience® Conference are now available

We’re pleased to share videos from the 2024 First-Year Experience® Conference. Whether you weren’t able to join us at the conference or would simply like to hear the talks again, please take a moment to view the clips below.   Penguin Random House Author Breakfast Monday, February 19th, 7:15 – 8:45 am PST This event

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NEA Big Read Introduces New Theme “Where We Live.” Applications Now Open.

In case you missed it, in October the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced new guidelines for its NEA Big Read initiative and the 2024-2025 theme “Where We Live” alongside 50 books available for selection, culled from its archive. Applications are now open for grants to support NEA Big Read projects between September 2024

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