Twenty years after writing the highly acclaimed The House on
Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros returns to the spotlight with her new
In Book Magazine, Cisneros calls herself 'a miniaturist' (chapters in The House on Mango Street are seldom longer than a paragraph or two), yet at 440 pages, Caramelo is something of an epic. Cisneros set out to tell the story of her father's life, a project that required going back still further in time: to grandparents and ancestors and the Mexican history surrounding them, in what Jerome Weeks calls 'a multigenerational saga and historical novel complete with footnotes' that took nine years to create.
The theme of mestizo, or mixedness, of both Mexican and American cultures is prominent in much of Cisneros' writing. This concept is embodied in Caramelo through images of the quintessential mestizo object, a handwoven shawl called a rebozo. The book's title takes its name from a special type of highly prized rebozo, a caramelo shawl that is the color of golden candy and soft as corn silk, symbolizing family continuity as it is handed down from generation to generation.