I called Carlos Fuentes the Ambassador of Everything. He was un caballero, a gentleman; dignified and charming—a true diplomat’s son. He could say things critical of the United States, about its antiterrorism tactics and immigration policies, putting his finger right on the problem and fearlessly mention the white elephants in the room. If I or some other U.S.-Mexican writer had done it, people would have said, “They don’t know what they’re talking about.” But he was a gentleman who spoke as if he were wearing a tuxedo; he could say things delicately. I am grateful for his intelligence and courage and elegance.
He had so much public success but also personal sorrow, including losing two of his children. Yet he would start a new book; he would go out to meet the public; he would bury himself in his writing. He was deeply competitive and wanted the big international prizes, but life didn’t give him what he wanted. I wish he had realized what he had accomplished was greater than the Nobel. He was a noble man, and that is more important in my book.
Cisneros is the author of eight books, including The House on Mango Street
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