Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Oscar Hijuelos papers, 1974-2005, bulk 1977-2003

Summary Information


The bulk of the Oscar Hijuelos Papers consists of notes, multiple drafts, and galley proofs for six of Hijuelos' novels, all written and published between 1977 and 2002; several short stories; an unpublished version of Mr. Ives' Christmas; and the musical version of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. The collection also includes research materials for the novels, translations, limited correspondence with editors and friends, and a deposition relating to a lawsuit.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1490
Bib ID 5706615 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Hijuelos, Oscar
Title Oscar Hijuelos papers, 1974-2005, bulk 1977-2003
Physical Description 16 linear feet (38 document boxes)
Language(s) English , Spanish; Castilian , Italian .

This collection has no restrictions.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.



The material is arranged chronologically.



The collection contains research materials, notes, and manuscripts of several short stories and six novels written by Hijuelos between 1974 and 2003. The research materials consist of clippings and photocopies of articles, photographs, and drawings from newspapers, magazines, and books; print-outs of articles from the Internet; and musical lyrics and an album liner. Typed drafts of some of the stories and all of the novels include extensive notes and revisions from Hijuelos and his teachers (Susan Sontag and Donald Barthelme) and editors (Jonathan Galassi of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, among others); multiple galley proofs of the novels include editorial queries and corrections. The musical version of The Mambo Kings contains correspondence between Hijuelos and director Arne Glimcher. The collection also contains a small amount of personal and professional correspondence, a deposition by Hijuelos relating to a lawsuit brought against him in 1992, and a copy of an interview with Hijuelos.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection has no restrictions.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Oscar Hijuelos papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Method of acquisition--Purchased in; Date of acquisition--2006.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed Anne Diebel, GSAS 2012.

Revision Description

2009-09-16 File created.

2009-10-05 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Cuba -- Fiction Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cuban Americans -- Fiction Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hijuelos, Oscar Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note


Oscar Hijuelos was born to Cuban immigrants in 1951 in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City. He attended public schools and then Bronx Community College; he later enrolled at The City College of New York and received a B.A. in 1975 and an M.F.A. in 1976. As a graduate student in writing, he worked with Donald Barthelme and Susan Sontag.

After completing his studies, Hijuelos earned his living by working during the day in an advertising agency. Before and after hours, he wrote short stories and started writing his first novel, Our House in the Last World. He soon gained recognition for his work: a group of his stories was included in the 1978 anthology Best of Pushcart Press III, and he won a scholarship to the prestigious Breadloaf Writers Conference in Vermont in 1980. His debut novel garnered several awards--The American Academy of Arts and Letters Rome Prize, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Ingram-Merrill fellowship. These grants allowed Hijuelos to leave his advertising job and devote himself to writing fiction. During his 1985 writing residency in Rome, Hijuelos started writing The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, which was published in 1989 and won The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1990--the first novel by a Latino writer to win the prize. Arne Glimcher adapted the novel into the feature film The Mambo Kings in 1992 and, in collaboration with Carlos Franzetti, a stage musical in 2005.

Since the enormous success of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Hijuelos has written five novels, all of which depict the lives of Cuban-born or Cuban-descended characters living in the United States: The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien (1993), Mr. Ives' Christmas (1995), Empress of the Splendid Season (1999), A Simple Habana Melody (2002), and Dark Dude (2008). Hijuelos has also contributed to several anthologies of Latino literature. He has taught at Hofstra University and currently teaches creative writing at Duke University. He lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.