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2020 National Book Festival Highlights: Sandra Cisneros

Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival! If you love storytelling or are simply curious about the world, you’ve landed in the right place. As a way into this vast — and vastly fascinating — festival celebrating “American Ingenuity,” we offer here a string of highlights that truly illustrate the resilience, intelligence and wit of this year’s authors. Please enjoy, and make sure to explore our full National Book Festival video collection and special limited-time content on the Virtual Festival Platform.

The following post was written by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer in Literary Initiatives.

Today we are focusing on Sandra Cisneros, one of the most celebrated Latino authors of her generation, best known for her first novel, “The House on Mango Street.” A poet, essayist, novelist and Chicana activist, here in this video she speaks about the importance of empathy, a writer’s need to have an open heart and the many ways that difficult times have spurred her work and imagination. Her recent book is “A House of My Own: Stories from My Life” (Vintage).

Cisneros’s innate compassion for others is evident when she says, “When we’re working with our hearts, and with our complete hearts and con puro amor — with pure love — on behalf of those we love, and with no ego involved: siempre sale bonito — it’s always going to turn out well.”

Today, that kind of optimistic spirit is something we all can take to heart, as we cope with a surging pandemic and political uncertainty.

One of the benefits of this virtual festival is that you get a peek into the spaces where authors live and write. Cisneros speaks to us from her book-filled living room in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.

The more than 120 authors, poets and illustrators who joined us for the 2020 National Book Festival, our first virtual festival, rose to the challenges of presenting online, and they shared their unique perspectives on this 20th festival’s theme, American Ingenuity.

You can access all author presentations from our National Book Festival site. And there is additional video content, such as fascinating Q&A sessions with select authors, on the Virtual Festival Platform.

You are invited to explore the many festival stages in genres such as History & Biography, Poetry & Prose, Fiction, Children and Teens. These author recordings are guaranteed to challenge you to look at life in new ways and inspire you to read their work.

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival celebrates its 20th birthday this year. You can get up-to-the-minute festival news, highlights, and other important information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You can support the festival, too, by making a gift now.


  1. Ann Wheeler Bullock
    October 23, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks for the head’s up! Long-time fan of National Book Festival, beginning on the Mall in DC! Cant wait to watch videos from this year!

    Thanks, again.

  2. Gretchen Weaver
    October 23, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Many thanks for sharing your side of the story of your teaching. I’m sure that your students are very grateful for your belief in them.

    A fellow teacher.

  3. Sue Dagenais
    October 24, 2020 at 9:47 am

    Looking forward to learning a lot on this blog! Thank you.

  4. Jean Walker
    October 26, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you so very much for allowing us to attend National Book Festival sessions. I look forward to learning about new authors and hearing from my heros and heroines.

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