Elena Poniatowska

PARIS, 1932

CERVANTES PRIZE 2013

She was born Hélène Elizabeth Louise Amélie Paula Dolores Poniatowska Amor in Paris in 1932. The name, unsurprisingly, denotes royal blood, Poniatowska's father being a direct descendant of King Stanislaus II, the last king of Poland. Her mother was a Mexican whose family originally came from France.  During the 2nd World War, Poniatowska fled to Mexico with her mother and sister while her father stayed on to fight in the French army. She attended school in the United States, and this was where she later embarked on her outstanding journalistic career. La noche de Tlatelolco (The Night of Tlatelolco, 1971), one of her most famous books, bears witness to the massacre of student protesters in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Mexico in 1968. Her chosen genre is literary journalism, much of which is collected in the 7 volume Todo México (All México, 1991-1999). Her prolific career has won her many awards including the Mazatlán Prize twice for Hasta no verte Jesús mío (Until I Don't See You, My Dear Jesus, 1970) and Tinísima (1992); the Alfaguara Prize for the novel La piel del cielo (The Skin of the Sky, 2001); the Rómulo Gallegos International Prize  for the novel El tren pasa primero (The Train Goes First, 2007); and the Biblioteca Breve Prize for Leonora (2011). She has also received the distinction Honoris Causa from several universities. Elena Poniatowska is one of the most powerful and important voices of Spanish American literature and journalism.

Elena Poniatowska Foundation's Website

Full acceptance speech - Cervantes Prize

Interview in English with the LA Times

"With her masterful command of language, Elena Poniatowska has created

a cosmopolitan setting and a perturbing female figure who embodies

the dreams and nightmares of the 20th Century."

JURY OF THE BIBLIOTECA BREVE PRIZE 2011

 

"Poniatowska has made an art form of blending journalism and fiction."

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY  

 

"She herself has become a literary character... She has a kind of musicality,

fluttering assuredly like the poetry we see in her writing...

She is the bird of Mexican literature.

Octavio Paz

 

"Poniatowska pays her dues to feminism through the depiction of tense,

powerful figures, browbeaten by accumulated prejudice...

She will be another foreigner in the land of wars and revolutions." 

Carlos Monsiváis

 

"I read her work as a continuity, as pieces of a fresco that help me

to understand the world in which I live. Or the world in which I lived

or wanted to live, in any case, the only one that exists for any of us."

Rosa Beltrán, UNIVERSIDAD DE MÉXICO REVIEW



"An excellent writer."

Antonio Muñoz Molina

 

"She is a woman who has enhanced the Latin American tradition

of combining journalism and literature or literature and journalism.

The order doesn't matter. Time has blurred the boundaries."

Winston Manrique, EL PAÍS

© Daniel Mordzinski

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By Elena Poniatowska

  • Indomitable Women

    NON FICTION, 2016

    Contemporary society is riven by social struggle, especially that of women, who raise their voices from the trenches and will never give up. Women refusing to accept the status quo stand out from...

  • Twice Unique

    NOVEL. SEIX BARRAL, 2015

    A diva and muse in her own right, legendary wife, magnificent cook, stormy tempered mother and tragic widow, María Guadalupe Marín Preciado, Lupe Marín (1895-1983), was a...

  • The Universe or Nothing

    BIOGRAPHY, 2013

    Ever since his mother first showed him the stars, the fate of Guillermo Haro (1913-1988) has been tied to them. Having dropped out of a legal degree and earned one in philosophy instead, the sky...

  • Leonora

    NOVEL. SEIX BARRAL, 2011

    BIBLIOTECA BREVE PRIZE 2011 Elena Poniatoswka's exciting novel about the incredible life of British painter Leonora Carrington, the last living surrealist, is an adventure story, a cry for...

  • A Wedding in Chimalistac

    CHILDREN'S BOOK, 2008

    The gardens of the neighbourhood of Chimalistac, in the south of Mexico City, witness the love of a lemon tree for a Jacaranda. Unfortunately, the Jacaranda is in love with an ash tree and the...

  • La herida de Paulina

    NOVEL, 2007

    Poniatowska chronicles the recent case of Paulina through a montage of dialog, description, and photographs. After being raped, the 13-year-old attempts to obtain a constitutionally legal...

  • The Train Goes First

    NOVEL, 2007

    INTERNATIONAL NOVEL PRIZE RÓMULO GALLEGOS 2007 Trinidad Pineda Chiñas from Oaxaca, Mexico learned at an early age that he was gifted, not with beauty or physical strength, but...

  • The Skin of the Sky

    NOVEL, 2001

    ALFAGUARA NOVEL PRIZE 2001 A story about the secret side of humanity, the one that hides all passions and emotions. La piel del cielo, like a telescope, brings us closer to the mystery of the...

  • Tinísima

    NOVEL, 1993

    Using quotations from actual letters, characters under their actual names, and events straight out of history, Mexican novelist Elena Poniatowska has reimagined the life of actress and Communist...

  • All Mexico I-VII

    NON FICTION, 1991-2002

    Seven volumes in which are gathered all her works of literary journalism.

  • The Fleur de Lis

    NOVEL, 1988

    Mariana, the narrator of this novel, is a Duchess who spends her early years in France among valets, butlers and monogrammed crockery. This charmed existence comes to an abrupt end with the advent...

  • Octavio Paz. The Words of the Tree

    BIOGRAPHY, 1998

    Elena Poniatowska presents an intimate portrait of Octavio Paz based on conversations, memories, letters and snippets of poems. She tells the poet's story, offering her own version of their time...

  • Paseo de la Reforma

    NOVELA, 1996

    Ashby Egbert is a member of the Mexican upper classes and that is how he was brought up. He never thinks to question his upbringing until he suffers an accident while his parents are away and must...

  • Dear Diego, Love from Quiela

    NOVEL, 1978

    The Russian exile and painter Angelina Beloff writes from the cold and impoverished post-war Paris to Diego Rivera, her spouse of over ten years. Beloff sends these letters to which there is no...

  • The Night of Tlatelolco. Chronicles of Oral History

    NON FICTION, 1971

    One of her most famous books, bears witness to the massacre of student protesters in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Mexico in 1968.     

  • Here's to You, Jesusa!

    NOVEL, 1969

    Left motherless and with a roaming father in impoverished turn-of-the-century Oaxaca, Jesusa is married at age 15 to an abusive cavalry captain during the Mexican revolution. Always a tomboy, she...

  • Lilus Kikus

    FICTION, 1954

    Composed of an illustrated novella, four stories and a critical essay, this collection introduces English-speaking readers to experimental Mexican writer Poniatowska, whose body of work has earned...

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