Oscar Hijuelos was the Cuban-American writer who won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with his 1990 novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. His parents were Cuban immigrants to New York City, where Hijuelos was a born and raised. He studied writing at New York City College, finishing with a graduate degree in 1976 under the tutelage of writer Donald Barthelme. For nearly a decade, Hijuelos worked in transit advertising while writing fiction in his spare time. His first published novel, Our House in the Last World (1983), was a critical success and Hijuelos won the Rome Prize. His second novel, Mambo Kings, was a popular and critical hit and was made into a 1992 movie starring Antonio Banderas. After its publication, he wrote full-time and taught at Duke University. Hijuelos wrote contemporary novels informed by his relationship to and apart from Cuba. His books include the novels Mr. Ives' Christmas (1996), Empress of the Splendid Season (1999) and Beautiful Maria of My Soul (2010), and the memoir Thoughts Without Cigarettes (2011). He died at the age of 62 from a heart attack.