Oscar Hijuelos, a Cuban-American novelist who won Pulitzer Prize for "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love", has died. Citing Hijuelos' agent Jennifer Lyons, the Associated Press reported that the author passed away on Saturday, October 12, at the age of 62. He got heart attack when playing tennis in Manhattan.
Hijuelos was born in Manhattan on August 24, 1951. His parents, Pascual and Magdalena Torrens Hijuelos, emigrated from Cuba in the 1940s. The family used Spanish at home and Hijuelos was fluent in English after he got sick following a trip to Cuba.
"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 in 2011. "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."
Young Hijuelos enrolled in Louis D. Brandeis High School in Manhattan and later attended some colleges. He earned a bachelor's degree and a Master of Fine Arts from City College.
His first novel "Our House in the Last World" was published in 1983. His next work "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love", which tells the story of two brothers who emigrate to New York and got famous after playing on a show "I Love Lucy", was released in 1989. He received Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1990. "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love" was adapted into a movie starring Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas.
Hijuelos' other novels include "The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien" and "Mr. Ives' Christmas". His memoir, "Thoughts Without Cigarettes", was published in 2011.