Hijuelos, Oscar Jerome
- Gustavo Pérez Firmat
Hijuelos, Oscar Jerome (24 Aug. 1951–12 Oct. 2013), writer, was born in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City to Pascual Hijuelos, a cook at the Biltmore Hotel, and Magdalena Torrens Hijuelos. His parents, immigrants from Cuba, maintained contact with their relatives on the island and spoke Spanish at home. During a family trip to Cuba, four-year-old Oscar contracted acute nephritis. He spent nearly a year in a Connecticut hospital separated from his family and, as a result, was forced to learn English. When he returned home, Oscar was no longer able to speak Spanish. Hijuelos maintained that losing his fluency estranged him from his family and culture but gave him the distance that allowed him to observe and write about the lives of Cubans in the United States. Writing about the lost Cuban world of his parents and the sense of displacement he inherited from them, Hijuelos often created characters who were immigrants facing problems of assimilation and identity while struggling to hold on to their Cuban heritage....