Cecile Pineda

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Cecile Pineda
BornSeptember 1932
OccupationAuthor, theatre director, and playwright
Known forWritings, theater works
Home townNew York City, US
AwardsSue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, Gold Medal of the Commonwealth Club of California

Cecile Pineda was born in September 1932 in Harlem, New York City.[1] Her novels have won numerous awards including the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and a Gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California in 1986 for Face, and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship.[2] Pineda is a daughter of a Mexican professor of languages and a French-Swiss artist and teacher.[citation needed] In her autobiographical essay "Deracinated: the writer re-invents her sources" published in Máscaras, she states that her father, along with his father and brothers, fled the Mexican Revolution leaving his mother and sister behind.[3] In 1961, she moved from New York City to San Francisco, California, where she has spent most of her career as a writer and theater maker.[citation needed] In 1969, Pineda founded The Theater of Man which she directed from 1969 to 1981.[citation needed] Performance pieces were developed in an intense rehearsal process in which actors worked with composers, designers, choreographers, playwrights, and sculptors under her direction. The theater produced thirteen original works, seven of which were based on Pineda's original texts.[citation needed] Productions included her redaction of T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral, Claude van Itallie's The Serpent,[4] After Eurydice,[5] Stoneground, based on Mujica-LainzBomarzo, The Trial, after Franz Kafka, and Threesomes.[citation needed]

She completed her theater studies in 1970, taking an advanced M.A. degree in theater from San Francisco State University.[6] The Cecile Pineda Papers, 1959–to the present, include a collection of the author's original correspondence, manuscripts, journals, reviews, videos, drafts, rehearsal logs, and posters documenting her career in both literature and theater. The collection is housed at Stanford University, occupying more than 29 feet (9 m).[7] Her academic appointments include positions as writer in residence at San Diego State University and Mills College in Oakland, California, and a Distinguished Regents’ Lectureship at the University of California, Berkeley.[8]

An avid reader from childhood, Pineda cites Samuel Beckett, Kōbō Abe, J.M. Coetzee, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Franz Kafka as writers whose work has most influenced her.[9]




Cecile Pineda’s debut novel, Face, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction awarded by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, proposes a protagonist who suffers a catastrophic facial accident. It addresses issues having to do with identity. “When I read Face in 1985, it struck me as an extraordinary achievement, all the more extraordinary for being a first novel. Rereading it has not changed my estimate....Face continues to haunt me.” —J.M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize, 2003.


Frieze was published soon after in 1987. Set in 9th Century India and Java, it questions the role of the individual artist in a society, which is at once exploitative and oppressive.[12]

The Love Queen of the Amazon[13]

Published in 1992, with the assistance of a National Endowment of the Arts Writing Fellowship, Pineda’s comic novel, The Love Queen of the Amazon, was named Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times. Its protagonist, Ana Magdelena Figeruoa is awarded in a brokered marriage to a celebrated Latin American man of letters who charges her with providing him with three meals a day and a clean change of underwear while he repairs to his aerie to compose the Great Latin American novel of the Boom Years. The novel is a send-up of hemispheric politics and magic realism. “Ana Magdalena Figueroa is one of the few great Latin heroines not created by the male imagination. Cecile Pineda has enhanced the roster of modern literature's most remarkable female characters with her brilliantly drawn portrait.” —Richard Martins, The Chicago Tribune, March 8, 1992.

Fishlight: A Dream of Childhood[14]

Fishlight: A Dream of Childhood is Pineda’s fictional memoir told in the voice of a five-year-old. Published by Wings Press in 2001, it explores the imaginative formation of the future writer.[15]


In 2002, Pineda published the first of her mononovels. Cast as the protagonist’s dying hallucination, Bardo 99 is the author’s encounter with some of the waning century’s most apocalyptic events.[17]


Pineda followed the publication of Bardo 99 with a second mononovel in 2004. Redoubt follows the stream of consciousness of a sentry standing guard in a desert outpost located somewhere close to or distant from an unnamed capital. It is Pineda’s meditation on the state of being born female. “Redoubt is as close as I've ever come to "being one" with a woman, through the pages of a book.” —Rudy Ch. Garcia writing in La Bloga, December 2005.


Like Snow Melting in Water (2008)

Like Snow Melting in Water is based on a true story. Set in the contemporary rice-growing village of Ogama on the Sea of Japan, it chronicles the collapse of an agrarian culture and sale of the village to The Tashima Company, a toxic waste disposal company.


  1. ^ "Cecile Pineda, author, Wings Press". Archived from the original on March 10, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  2. ^ "American Academy of Arts and Letters - Award Winners". Artsandletters.org. Archived from the original on 2010-09-12. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  3. ^ "Deracinated: the writer re-invents her sources" in Máscaras, ed. Lucha Corpi, Berkeley: Third Woman Press, 1997. Print
  4. ^ "THEATER - PERFORMANCES The Serpent". Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  5. ^ "THEATER - PERFORMANCES After Eurydice". Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  6. ^ "Cecile Pineda's HomePage". Cecilepineda.com. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  7. ^ "Cecile Pineda". Cecile Pineda. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  8. ^ "Cecile Pineda Biography - (born 1961), writer, Face, House on Mango Street, Murder in the Cathedral, The Serpent". Jrank.org. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  9. ^ "Cecile Pineda, author, Wings Press". Wingspress.com. 2003-07-18. Archived from the original on 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  10. ^ "Face (Complete Works of Cecile Pineda series) (9780930324902): Cecile Pineda: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  11. ^ "Frieze (Complete Works of Cecile Pineda series) (9780930324919): Cecile Pineda: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  12. ^ Pineda, Cecile. Frieze. San Antonio: Wingpress, 2000. Print
  13. ^ "The Love Queen of the Amazon (Complete Works of Cecile Pineda series) (9780930324698): Cecile Pineda: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  14. ^ "Fishlight: A Dream of Childhood (Complete Works of Cecile Pineda series) (9780930324674): Cecile Pineda: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  15. ^ Pineda, Cecile.Fishlight: A Dream of Childhood. San Antonio: Wingpress, 2001. Print
  16. ^ "Bardo99 (Complete Works of Cecile Pineda series) (9780930324834): Cecile Pineda: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  17. ^ Pineda, Cecile. Bardo99. San Antonio: Wingpress, 2002. Print
  18. ^ "Redoubt: A Mononovel (Complete Works of Cecile Pineda series) (9780930324865): Cecile Pineda: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-09-09.

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