In this bilingual edition (written originally in English and translated into Spanish by Liliana Valenzuela) of Cisneros’s exquisite story (after Puro Amor), a woman relives her time in Paris two decades earlier via a cache of discovered letters. At 20, Corina aspires to become a writer and escape her poor Mexican Chicago family, prompting her to travel to Paris. She meets Marta, from Chile, and Paola, from Italy, and mingles with artists, dancers, and performers. She stretches her money to stay longer, realizing, “I can’t go home yet. Because home is bus stops and drugstore windows, elastic bandages and hairpins, plastic ballpoints, felt bunion pads, tweezers, rat poison, cold sore ointment, mothballs, drain cleaners, deodorant.” Back in Chicago, she holds onto a photo of herself with Marta and Paola, but swiftly loses touch with them. Decades later, she discovers a letter from Marta sent shortly after she’d left, suggesting they meet in Spain, “in case you’re still traveling.” Corina speaks to Marta in her thoughts and gives the rundown of her life: divorced, remarried, two daughters. Cisneros’s language and rhythm of her prose reverberate with Corina’s longing for her youth and unfulfilled promise. The author’s fans will treasure this. Agent: Susan Bergholz, Susan Bergholz Literary. (Sept.)Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated this book was translated from the Spanish into English.
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: NPR, The Smithsonian
"Genre-defying. . . . it is difficult to think of a more fitting story for today."
“To read this novella is to stumble upon gems. Cisneros’s prose hums, filled with personification, metaphor, and allusion, crisscrossing from Paris to Chicago to Mexico. Her writing spans languages, continents, and time. . . . Martita, I Remember You is a love letter to female friendship.”
–Los Angeles Review of Books
"The House on Mango Street was THE book of my teenage years. . . . Martita, I Remember You/Martita Te Recuerdo feels like a continuation of that magic."
“[Cisneros] is more than a member of the literary pantheon. She’s also part guru, part patron saint of Hispanic literature. . . and a total truth-teller.”
“A story of memory and friendship, but also about the experiences young women endure as immigrants worldwide."
"[Sandra Cisneros] is an evolving artist who persistently adds substantial titles to her impressive oeuvre of poetry, short stories, essays and memoirs. With Martita, I Remember You Cisneros captures a broad range of influences and important aspects of her life. She grounds the story in a Chicago setting that harkens to her own roots in the city while placing events in a less-than-fanciful Paris she knew as a young traveler. The perspective is both wise and naïve, pragmatic and hopeful. In the story, Cisneros captures the meaning and residual power of a transformative youthful experience. Martita’s narrator, Corina, and Cisneros herself, take the long view to dissect the ways in which our past becomes part of the fabric of our most contemporary selves."
—New City Lit
"Sandra Cisneros’s exquisite jewel of a novella Martita, I Remember You is about aloneness and togetherness, about hopes and separations, about choices, bad and good and indifferent. It’s about youth and memory, about looking into the unknown future and back into the unfathomable past."
—Third Coast Review
"Best-selling Chicana author Sandra Cisneros is back with a brand-new gem. . . . A lovely pick for those who love reading about friendships."
"Martita, I Remember You/Martita, te recuerdo is written in English and Spanish, the two versions existing in the same book. The language is poetic. Sandra Cisneros is known for her bestselling novel The House on Mango Street, and while this is a shorter story, the magic and power of her writing is ever present."
"The legendary Sandra Cisneros returns with the dual-language novel Martita, I Remember You. The story follows Corina, who, after rediscovering an old letter, finds herself revisiting the heady, heated summer she spent with Martita and Paola in Paris."
"Tightly written, unfolding in a controlled spool of memory, the story is told in a combination of correspondence and narrative vignettes; its length is closer to that of a long short story but it works as a stand-alone volume, especially as paired with its Spanish version. A tale both beautiful and brief."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Every heart-revving scene is sensuously and incisively rendered, cohering into a vivid, tender, funny, bittersweet, and haunting episodic tale of peril, courage, concession, selfhood, and friendship. Cisneros's intricately multidimensional and beautifully enveloping novella is presented in both English and Spanish."
—Booklist (starred review)
"Cisneros’s language and rhythm of her prose reverberate with Corina’s longing for her youth and unfulfilled promise. The author’s fans will treasure this."
In this beautiful remembrance of things past, the discovery of a misplaced letter prompts memories of youthful adventures that three friends shared in the City of Light. In this case, Corina recalls her friendship with Martita and Paola during their time together in Paris, exploring cafés, meeting new people (especially other artists and writers), and pursuing their individual dreams. Though it's been decades since the friends roamed Parisian streets, Corina (Puffina to her friends) rereads all their letters, reliving these luscious moments even as she remains resigned to the reality that her dreams did not come true. In this short work, Cisneros (The House on Mango Street; A House of My Own) draws upon her considerable talents as both a novelist/storyteller and a poet to expertly structure her novella, contrasting the joyful and carefree (or careless) nature of the youthful Puffina with the responsible, mature, almost stoic Corina, who is finishing the laborious task of stripping varnish in the Chicago apartment she shares with her husband, Richard, a man whom she loves but with whom she is not in love VERDICT This bilingual edition sparkles with life even as it exudes the poignancy and bittersweet reminiscences of the dreams that eventually eluded Corina. Recommended for most fiction collections. —Faye Chadwell, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis
A Chicago woman discovers old letters from a long-lost friend she'd met as a young adult in Paris, leading her to recall friendships forged in the yearning days of her youth.
When Corina unearths a pack of letters from her friend Martita as she renovates her house, she recalls her time as a 20-year-old with Martita and Paola among the out-of-reach glamour of Paris, where they bonded over their shared poverty and dreams to do better for themselves. Corina is waiting for a letter of acceptance from a French art foundation as her money disappears, hoping it arrives before she's forced to go home to Chicago. Paola, from Italy, and Marta, from Buenos Aires, both let Corina stay with them in their own less-than-desirable living situations, and they walk around the glittering streets, looking but unable to access most of what they see, still holding onto their determination to partake of what they can with joie de vivre. We glean snippets of Corina’s life back home: Her father disapproving of her choices, her family making tamales in an assembly line for Christmas. When Corina finds herself back in Chicago, working at the gas company and married with children, pieces of Martita’s and Paola's further adventures are detailed in their letters. Tightly written, unfolding in a controlled spool of memory, the story is told in a combination of correspondence and narrative vignettes; its length is closer to that of a long short story but it works as a stand-alone volume, especially as it's paired with its Spanish version.
A tale both beautiful and brief.