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Pita in the Arms of God

Elena Poniatowska

Translated by Christina MacSweeney

Pita Amor met with God at an appointment they had arranged on Saturday, May 6, 2000, when she contracted pneumonia. God made her wait a little, but he finally canceled other engagements to receive her into his celestial bed on Monday, May 8 at 16:45, in the clinic of her nephew Juan Pérez Amor in Santiago Apóstol, San Jerónimo.

Like an eighteenth-century shaman in a brocade waistcoat, with a pocket watch, Zapatista mustache, and recently washed long hair, Juan accompanied her to the threshold but went no further because only she could cross there. “Our eyes embraced, we were alone, she looked very beautiful, serene, and without saying good-bye, she departed.”

Dios, invención admirable
hecha de ansiedad humana
y de esencia tan arcana
que se vuelve impenetrable.
¿Por qué no eres tú palapable
para el soberbio que vio?
¿Por qué me dices que no
cuando te pido que vengas?
Dios mío, no te detengas,
O ¿quieres que vaya yo?

God, admirable invention
made from human anxiety
and arcane essence
that becomes impenetrable.
Why are you not perceptible
to the proud person who looked?
Why do you say no
when I ask you to come?
My God, do not tarry.
Or are you waiting for me to come?

Pita Amor sang her hymn to God and she herself was God.

The proof: Pita must be, at this very moment, giving the saints celestial whacks of her umbrella, making the ecclesiastic hierarchy tremble just by saying in her thundering voice, “Good morning” (a good morning from Pita is not just any good morning, it resounds in the mountains); interrupting the music of the spheres to say to Jesusa Rodríguez, when she impersonates her, “You’re amazing! Better than Chaplin!”; or—standing in the middle of the theater with a rose in her hair, brandishing her walking stick—ordering actress Patricia Reyes Spíndola, “Patricia, come down from that stage immediately! This work is for cretins, it’s not worthy of you. Come down, Patricia, or I’ll come up!” A chorus of humbled cab drivers, traffic policemen, and waiters will be hiding behind the clouds to avoid her saying, “Monkeys, toucan faces, Guatemalan dwarfs!” Just like in 1985, when she was asked her opinion about the earthquake and exclaimed: “Great: That’ll prune out the know-nothings!”


This singular person, who toward the end of her life was known as “Batman’s granny” in Colonia Juárez, where she lived, would have been eighty-two on May 30. Given the title of “Honorary Queen of the Zona Rosa,” she used to wander the streets of that district day after day, dressed as a gilded lamé butterfly, a dragonfly, as Isadora Duncan, her hair dyed, a flower perched on top of her head, weighed down by several tons of jewelry and her face made up like a jicama enchilada.

Liverpool, Berlin, London, Warsaw, Hamburg, Milan, Florence, Paris, Versailles, and Nice—her neighborhood streets—all watched her age and go mad. Perhaps Pita was seeking out her old haunts in the darker areas of Colonia Juárez; she was born in number 66, Calle Abraham González, and then lived nearby on Calle Génova. She lost her sight, underwent an operation, and after that wore pebble glasses and used a stick. She still hated for anyone to approach her and would use that stick to scare off admirers and creditors, sometimes striking them, sometimes waving the stick in the air: “Make way, you godforsaken wretches, get out of my way!” If she walked past beggars in the street, she would berate them, “On your feet, you slackers. Get up and work!”

Guadalupe Teresa Amor Schmidtlein was born on May 30, 1918. She was a privileged child, the youngest of the seven children of Emmanuel Amor Subervielle and Carolina Schmidtlein. Her siblings loved their sister, but her vanity and attention-seeking worried them. During the revolution, her father, owner of half the state of Morelos, lost the Hacienda San Gabriel, one of the most important sugarcane plantations in the state. Like all Porfirian families, the Amor Schmidtleins were forced to abandon their lands and go to Mexico City in the early years of the twentieth century; but though they soon came down in the world, they would never be able to forget their aristocratic past. Emmanuel Amor used to be taken out onto a balcony in Calle Abraham González to enjoy the sun, a plaid blanket on his knees. Pita remembers him as a “very English old man.”

Neither her father nor mother were able to control her and left her as free as her words. They never understood how it was that, late in life, they had given birth to a hurricane, a meteor, when their other children were fixed, stable planets. The entire neighborhood thought there was a dragon hidden on Calle Abraham González. Pita was the center of attention for a thirty-yard radius. At the top of her voice, she would—as she believed—sing one of Gardel’s tangos, “And everything in half light, what a sorcerer is love, in half light the kisses, in half light the two,” and her mother would suggest she stopped—“Hush, Pitusa!”—so as not to strain the privileged voice no one appreciated.

Inés Amor, director of the Galería de Arte Mexicano, said of Pita in 1953: “In this universe, Pita is like a star. I don’t know what sun she orbits around, but I can say that she has a deeply individual personal life, even if, in some aspects, her elemental forces seem like those of our planet: winds, hurricanes, intense fire, storms, and dust. Occasionally (and I hope this will happen more often), serene beauty. It would need the fearless courage of an interstellar pilot to discover Pita, or the wise patience of an astronomer… I live in the hope of being one day admitted, as a student, to the Tonantzintla Observatory.”

From a very early age, Pita was able to participate in Mexico’s artistic life thanks to her sister Carolina, who worked with Carlos Chávez and founded the Galería de Arte Mexicano, which Inés would later direct. This gallery—set up in the basement of the Amor house—was visited by the muralists Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros and the painter and engraver Julio Castellanos; the young Pita became friends with Juan Soriano, Roberto Montenegro, and Antonio Peláez; they all painted her, even Rivera, who, to the great shock of her family and the postrevolutionary elite of the Trescientos y algunos más, undressed her. Imperious, she demanded to be painted. Flustered, they gave in to her divine will.

Pita always found it difficult to adapt to the world around her; hers was a voice that stood out: from the unity of the choir, in her family home, among her five sisters and her brother, Chepe, in the Sacred Heart High School for Young Ladies, in Monterrey, which she could not bear, and which couldn’t bear her. The mother superior once indicated that she should kneel during a certain prayer, and Pita pretended not to hear. “She came up and, with a hand on my shoulder, tried to force me to obey. A wild beast would have seemed tame compared to me at that moment: blind with rage, I slapped her face, and her false teeth went flying, along with the rosary beads in her hand, and fell at the foot of a nearby wastepaper basket.”


Pita was never able to come out of herself to really love someone else; the only person she was ever able to give herself to was Pita. Too much in love with herself, she was only interested in others to the extent that they reflected her.

It seems contradictory to think that this woman whose delight in causing scandal never waned, and who used to go to the Paseo de la Reforma at midnight, naked under her mink coat, to announce to the river of automobiles, “I am the Queen of the Night,” would then return to her apartment on Calle Duero in the early morning and, alone in her bed, write on a bread packet, in eyebrow pencil:

Ventana de un cuarto, abierta…
¡Cuánto aire por ella entraba!
Y yo que en el cuarto estaba,
a pesar que aire tenía,
de asfixia casi moría;
que este aire no me bastaba,
porque en mi mente llevaba
la congoja y la aflicción
de saber que me faltaba
la ventana de mi razon.

Open window to a room…
How much air comes through!
And I, in the room,
despite having air
was almost dying of suffocation;
that air was not enough for me,
because in my mind I carried
the anguish and affliction
of knowing I lacked
the window to my reason.

Pita Amor went from scandal to scandal without the least self-pity. During a television program, dripping with jewelry, two rings on every finger and a plunging neckline that caused complaints from the Decency League—which categorically stated that you could not recite Saint John of the Cross with your breasts hanging out—she started to pronounce brilliant décimas. Her Décimas a Dios (Décimas to God) was delirious.


“My name was written in neon lights when my books were published, and my beautiful face was reproduced everywhere, even on postcards. I captured the attention of everyone in Mexico. I used to capture it in a strident C major, now I capture it in C minor.

“When success came, I was more concerned with my beauty, and my turbulent love affairs.

“I don’t accept, have never accepted, and will never accept skepticism, an invalid, impotent stance. Today’s youth drives me crazy. I can’t stand young people. They’re impossible, abominable.

“Because I, who have been young, am still young, because I’m the age I want to be. I’m pretty when I want to be and ugly when I have to be. I’m young when I want to be and old when I have to be. I, who have been the most worldly, most frivolous woman in the world, don’t believe in the time marked by the watch or calendar. I believe in the time of my glands and my arteries. I abolished anguish a long time ago. I abolished it by consuming it.”

Terrifying, unstoppable, unpredictable, Pita Amor said with a sneer of disdain: “Of all my work, everything I’ve written, what I like best is my epitaph.”

Mi cuarto es de cuatro metros,
mide mi cuerpo uno y medio.
La caja que se me espera
será la suma del tedio.

My room measures four meters,
my body measures one and a half.
The box that awaits me
will be an enormous bore.


Pita Amor was one of the most sensational figures of the forties and fifties. For the twenty years following the publication of her first collection of poetry in 1946, she attracted an ever-greater readership. Pita, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Frida Kahlo, Carlos Pellicer, María Izquierdo, María Félix, Edmundo O’Gorman, Justino Fernández, Lupe Marín, Cordelia Urueta, Xavier Villaurrutia, Dr. Atl, Salvador Novo, Ignacio Asúnsolo, José Vasconcelos, Archibaldo Burns, Nahui Olin, Amalia Hernández, Juan Soriano, Diego de Mesa, and many other sacred monsters formed a sort of “infamous mob” that invented and reinvented itself at will.

Impossible to forget Pita Amor’s parties in her apartment on Calle Duero, which she decorated in accordance with her books. When she wrote Polvo (Dust), she painted the walls and ceilings to match: the carpet was gray, the curtains were gray, the satin upholstery of her chairs and her tablecloths were all gray. When Otro libro de amor (Another book of love) came out, the living room and bedroom were swathed in flowered cretonne and colorful chintz á la House & Garden; the apartment was filled with branches, the carpet became a green lawn, and there was always water in the vases. For Décimas a Dios, Pita’s home took on a sober, slightly anguished air; lilies appeared in the shadows, and colonial candelabra illuminated the large portraits of Pita: one by Roberto Montenegro; two or three by Diego Rivera (a beautiful, rounded face); others by Gustavo Montoya, Cordelia Urueta, and Juan Soriano; Raúl Anguiano’s daring nude, which shows her seated with her legs apart; the beautiful pencil drawing by Antonio Peláez; another by Enrique Asúnsolo.

She spent night after night in a whirlwind of drinking at Sans Souci, Waikiki, at Les Ambassadeurs, in the Chandelier Salon at the Hotel del Prado. Pita was the center of every party, she would make reckless suggestions: “Let’s burn down the library of that dapper José Luis Martínez.” She entertained one and all with her odd notions and daring. She also showed great solidarity with her friends. One night, in 1953, when the newspaper editor and historian Fernando Benítez realized he didn’t have enough money to pay the bill at Ciro’s, he said to his old pals and drinking companions Pepe Iturriaga, Hugo Margáin, and Guillermo Haro, “Don’t worry, I’ll call Pita.” “But Fernando, it’s five in the morning!” Pita turned up with her nudity and her inevitable mink and paid, leaving an excellent tip.

Pita then declared: “I’m a disconcerted, disconcerting being; I’m full of vanity, of self-love and barren, naive ambitions. I’ve lived life to the fullest, but I’ve thought about it even more, and after taking a thousand different stances, I’ve come to the conclusion that what most interests me is God.”


Scandal and fame go arm in arm. Pita drew much more attention than her two older sisters, although they perhaps did more valuable work: Carolina founded the Mexican Medical Press, and Inés was director of the Galeria de Arte Mexicano. Both of them avoided the limelight. Pita, in contrast, undressed in public. She walked a permanent knife-edge. Her family looked on with very real fright. Could she be mad?

Between the wild parties, drinking sessions, and visits to the cabaret of the moment, the Leda, where Lupe Marín—Diego Rivera’s second wife—and Juan Soriano would do a barefoot dance celebrated by the writers of Los Contemporáneos and José Luis Martínez; between the Sunday bullfights and the cocktail parties, Pita Amor—out of the blue and to everyone’s surprise—produced Yo soy mi casa (I am my house), published on the initiative of Manolo Altolaguirre. The book caused a sensation. Alfonso Reyes, who was normally rather peevish, gave it his endorsement: “Let’s have no hateful comparisons. This is mythological.”


One evening, when Pita was feeling low, her nose running and a box of Kleenex under her arm, she commented, “I’ve got a permanent cold. Could I have caught it in one of those sessions in Diego’s freezing cold studio?” That nude caused a scandal. In 1949, at the launch of a retrospective of Diego Rivera’s work in Bellas Artes, Miguel Alemán Valdés, then president, was stunned when he saw it. Pita, standing beside the canvas in her fur coat, immediately began to explain in a loud voice that it was a portrait of her soul. “Oh, what a rosy soul you have!” he responded.

Polvo had recently been published, and Diego had intended to pay homage to the book. If the nude caused a series of heart attacks in her family, there was an even greater fuss when Justino Fernández discovered what Pita had provocatively written on the back of the canvas: “At seven-twenty on the evening of June Twenty-Ninth, 1949 we finished this portrait, to which both Diego and I gave ourselves over unconditionally.”


In 1954, during a party in her apartment on Calle Duero, Pita upbraided me, “Don’t compare yourself with your blood aunt! Don’t compare yourself with your fire aunt! Don’t dare appear next to me, next to my hurricanes, my storms, my rivers of lava! I am the sun, my girl, get any closer and my rays will burn you! I’m a volcano!”

The following day, at one in the afternoon, the telephone rang. It was Pita, bright as a daisy: “Are you happy, my sweet?”

I said I was, very happy. Then she asked me where she could find a pair of patent leather shoes with a butterfly-shaped bow to go out and trample the afternoon before someone stamped on her.

Pita banned me from using my maternal surname, Amor. “You’re a miserable journalist, I’m a goddess.”

My mother and Pita were first cousins, the daughters of two brothers: Emmanuel, Pita’s father, and Pablo, my mother’s. When I started working as a journalist, I received a long letter about the origins of my maternal family. The author called me a degenerate and prophesized my none-too-distant internment in the Fray Bernardino psychiatric clinic because, according to him, at a costume party in the middle of the last century, two young people met, fell in love at first sight, and went down to the basement to consummate their passion. When they had committed the offense, they removed their masks and exclaimed in unison, “Cousin!” Disconcerted, they set out on a journey to the Holy See and asked for an audience with the pope. After listening to their story, the pontiff pardoned them on the condition that they take the name Amor. According to Carolina Amor, the true story is that a woman of the Escandón family, who had never had children, fell pregnant very soon after the return of her brother from Stonyhurst and, when a boy was born, wagging tongues claimed he was the child of incest. And it’s true that this myth of blood weakened by promiscuity gave rise to a singular lineage of which Pita was the first legend.


I once asked Pita if she thought she was extravagant and she replied angrily, “Extravagant, me? Where, you insolent little brat, did you get the idea that I’m extravagant? Who told you that?”

“My aunts say you’re extravagant and frivolous.”

“Look, everything I do, I do to be different, particularly from them: embittered, shilly-shallying bourgeois women. Frivolous I am not. I love talking about those unsettling topics that are so great a part of the human spirit, but I do so bejeweled and bedecked as if I were just one of those women who are only interested in their appearance. In contrast to my five sisters, who talk about their children, husbands, and recipes, I talk about God, about anguish, about death. I take care of myself, and I do not dress expensively. That’s a trick. Very often, the day after I’ve been on television, I’ll get a telephone call from an admirer: ‘You looked stunning in that Italian brocade outfit.’ But what I was wearing was nothing more than a little starched percale, made up in such a way that the cameras, and the infallible assurance with which I wear it, make it look expensive. Understood?”


“And your jewelry? Those fingers crammed with rings?”

“Those rings are a mirage, just like my eyes and my teeth…”

“They might be mirages, but they weigh more than a convict’s iron ball.”

“Shut up, you insolent brat!”

“But Aunt, they’re a nightmare.”

Pita kept her jewelry under her bed in wooden crates—the type found in markets—lined with brown paper. When some trusted visitor asked to see them, she would take out handfuls of awful hardware that could have filled a railway wagon.

“They’re not genuine, are they?”

“Of course they are. The everyday pieces are from Sanborns, but the rest are worth millions.”

In 1958, when Guadalupe Amor published her collection of poetry Sirviéndole a Dios de hoguera (Serving the god of fire), Alfonso Reyes said it was the best thing she had written yet. Don Alfonso told Pita she had “grasped the very core of poetry.” Pita was in one of her good moments, both emotionally and in terms of her poetry. Nevertheless, a rumor went around that it was not she who had written it, but Don Alfonso. He was in love with her.

In relation to that collection, she explained: “With complete premeditation, I managed to compose 110 coplas using only a very basic vocabulary. Can you see? There are only four or five essential words: God, eternity, blood, universe, and stars!”

“And isn’t that a defect? Shouldn’t you use a wider range?”

“You know-nothing! I’m really moved that in such an ignorant, unlettered country as Mexico, my work is able to reach the masses. You’ve no idea how much mail I get, and how many people want to visit me!”


“I’ve just made a recording with RCA Victor of poetry from the fifteenth century to modern times. The theme is love. I chose two ballads from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Quevedo, Lope de Vega, Sor Juana, Neruda, García Lorca, Alfonso Reyes, Salvador Novo, Xavier Villaurrutia, Octavio Paz, and me, naturally, though I think I’m much better than Octavio Paz. He takes himself so seriously, but he doesn’t come up to my heels. It was a kindness on my part to include him.”

Paz, when asked what he thought of Pita’s work, growled, “I have no desire to express an opinion about Guadalupe Amor.” After that, Pita had it in for him.


In 1946, her mother, Doña Carolina Schmidtlein de Amor, died. Pita felt responsible. She spent her entire inheritance, every peso of it, on clothes and makeup, basques, and trinkets. What she frittered away on a string of stockings and perfumes, others would have invested in real estate. She began to torment herself, as can be seen in Mis crímenes (My crimes). She declared that she had killed her mother, as she would later say she killed her son, Manuelito. Yet her sense of guilt didn’t get in the way of her whirlwind life.

When she was still very young, Pita had met and been captivated by José Madrazo, sixty years old and owner of La Punta bull stud ranch. They had a very free, open relationship, and he was perhaps the only man Pita truly loved. She used to accompany Pepe Madrazo to the bullring, and many bullfighters became enamored with her. If she was asked just how many men had fallen for her, she would say, “Let’s see: five bullfighters, six writers, seven bankers, three aristocrats, four painters, eight doctors,” and she would roguishly go on counting men by the dozen on her bejeweled fingers.


After twelve years of honing her wild poetry, after the flattery of her friends, the loyalty of her avid readers, and the adoration of her fans, who she considered “godforsaken wretches”—a term that was dear to her, having enjoyed an unfettered social life—Pita Amor decides, at the age of thirty-eight, to have a child. When she informs Pepe Madrazo, he cuts her allowance and never sees her again. Pita installs herself in a clinic at a very early stage, and her pregnancy causes a serious nervous crisis, as does the caesarean section. Pita cannot bear the idea of having been operated on; she feels her body has been profaned: “I’m perforated, pierced.” She is taken from the maternity ward to her apartment on Calle Duero. At the first cry from the newborn, Pita knows for a fact she is incapable of looking after the child, so her elder sister Carolina takes Manuelito in. Another sister, Mimí, invites Pita to stay with her in Tizapán and, to completely erase all trace of her past, Pita burns her belongings and sells her nudes. A year and seven months later, little Manuel falls into a water trough and drowns at Carolina and Raoul Fournier’s house in San Jerónimo.

Maté yo a mi hijo, bien mío,
lo maté al darle la vida.

I killed my own dear son,
killed him when I gave birth to him.

Though the greatest sorrow belongs to her older sister, who has cared for the baby as a son, from that moment Pita goes downhill, and the descent is almost as frightening as her earlier, dizzying rise. She lives alone, refuses to see anyone, is inconsolable, and repeats over and over, “At such an age, at such an age,” referring to her son’s short life.


Overnight, Pita retired from the madding crowd. She chose isolation. Living far from the limelight, she refused work, didn’t want anyone to approach her in the street, anyone to know of her existence. She neglected her appearance, threw false eyelashes and rouge in the trash; her brush and comb were no longer of any use to her. Her huge eyes dimmed. Finally, ten years later, in 1972, she agreed to give a recital in the Ateneo Español and read Mexican poetry from Sor Juana to Pita, passing through Díaz Mirón, Manuel José Othón, Manuel González Montesinos, Alfonso Reyes, Enrique González Martínez, Renato Leduc, Xavier Villaurrutia, Ramón López Velarde, and Roberto Cabral del Hoyo. The Ateneo was packed. When she finished her final poem, the ovation lasted fifteen minutes. The whole audience was on its feet, cheering, “Pita! Pita! Pita!” Some were brushing away tears; they shouted bravo, and then came up to tell her that nothing had moved them so deeply for many years.

After agreeing to a televised interview with Jacobo Zabludowsky—it was incredibly successful—she began to give readings once more; the ovations lasted longer than a lap of honor in the bullring. She would swear blind that she was better than Sor Juana—“she’s dead, and I’m alive”—and as the protectors who had respected her beauty, her talent, and her nerve—Alfonso Reyes, Manuel González, and Enrique Asúnsolo—were dead too, there was no other option but to self-praise and to declare: “I am a goddess.” Many believed her.

She never again spoke of her past. If she gave an interview, she would say to the journalist, “I can’t bear stupidity. If you’re going to ask about my life, you’d better leave now.”

She used to humiliate those who attempted to cross the boundary.

In the end, what might have seemed an excess of self-esteem became exaggerated egomania. Juan Soriano remembers that when she was on the way to his studio on Calle Melchor Ocampo, Pita passed a barbershop, and the barbers shouted out, “Pita Amor! Pita Amor!” to which she responded, “Don’t speak to me. Don’t you dare say a word to me. You’re servants, sons of servants and you’ll die servants!” Going out with her was dangerous. It was impossible to say how she would react.


For years, we celebrated Christmas at the home of Carolina Amor and Raoul Fournier in San Jerónimo, and Pita would arrive with two or three supermarket bags containing her presents: toothpaste, a bar of soap, shaving cream, a packet of Kotex (six, light flow). Next to the traditional ties, pewter frames, and glass ashtrays, these gifts seemed highly original. Later, there were not even razor blades or Kleenex, just a few drawings, the size of playing cards, that she would put in our hands the way deaf-mutes do in sidewalk cafés.


Pita never had a job. “What are you thinking of? Working is for the servants,” she would protest. I once suggested a job, and she replied, “Listen, kid, I have enough work being a genius!” To get by, she sold the majority of her paintings to Lola Olmedo. “A gangster, a bandit, a highway robber.” In the Zona Rosa she took to selling small cards with a florid face (hers), most of which were very funny, for twenty-five pesos. She was invited to dinner at fashionable restaurants, but her irritable arrogance, her décima threats, and her literal whacks with the walking stick made her the scourge of waiters and diners. “Run! Pita’s coming!” Lovers and friends vanished.

At times Pita was capable of seeing herself with extraordinary clarity. “Among my personal defects is my idleness. I’ve always gone from post to pillar without ever achieving any self-discipline in my studies, in sports, in conversations. It was from my idleness that my earliest poems sprang, and my mature idleness has generated the harmony of my written words.”

Polvo ¿por qué me persigues
como si fuera tu presa?
Tu extraño influjo no cesa,
y hacerme tuyo consigues;
pero por más que castigues
hoy mi humillada figura,
mañana en la sepultura
te has de ir mezclando conmigo.
Ya no serás mi enemigo…
¡Compartirás mi tortura!

Dust, why do you pursue me
as if I were your prey?
Your strange influence is endless,
and you make me your own;
but for all you punish
today my humbled figure,
tomorrow in the tomb
you will be mingling with me.
You will no longer be my enemy…
You will share my torment!

Pita broke the mold, just as did other women of her era—rejection and censure made them increasingly rebellious; challenge and provocation became a way of life. As Pita says in her poem “Letanía de mis defectos” (“A litany of my defects”):

I am perverse, wicked, vengeful.
My blood is borrowed and fugitive.
My thoughts are very taciturn.
My dreams of sin are nocturnal.
I am hysterical, mad, deranged,
but already sentenced to eternity.

Christina MacSweeney‘s recent translations from the Spanish include Valeria Luiselli’s novel The Story of My Teeth (Coffee House) and Eduardo Rabasa’s A Zero Sum Game, forthcoming from Deep Vellum. Her translation of Elena Poniatowska’s essay “Diego I Am Alone” was published at the Creative Literary Studio.

Elena Poniatowska’s essay “Pita in the Arms of God” was translated from Las Siete Cabritas (Seven little she-goats) (Ediciones Era).


About the author

Elena Poniatowska received Spain’s Premio Cervantes Literature Award in 2013 for her lifetime of work (the fourth woman to receive such recognition, following Maria Zambrano, Dulce Maria Loynaz, and Ana Maria Matute). Her books in translation include Massacre in Mexico (Viking), Las Soldaderas: Women of the Mexican Revolution (Cinco Puntos), and the novel Here’s to You, Jesusa! (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). She lives in Mexico City.

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