Fiction •  Short Stories •  Literature and Latin America

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Lilus Kikus and Other Stories by Elena Poniatowska

Elena Poniatowska
Translated by Elizabeth Coonrod Martínez

Elena Poniatowska is recognized today as one of Mexico's greatest writers. Lilus Kikus, published in 1954, was her first book. However, it was labeled a children's book because it had a young girl as protagonist, it included illustrations, and the author was an unknown woman. Lilus Kikus has not received the critical attention or a translation into English it deserved, until now. Accompanying Lilus Kikus in this first American edition are four of Poniatowska's short stories with female protagonists, only one of which has been previously published in English.

Poniatowska is admired today as a feminist, but in 1954, when Lilus Kikus appeared, feminism didn't have broad appeal. Twenty-first-century readers will be fascinated by the way Poniatowska uses her child protagonist to point out the flaws in adult society. Each of the drawings by the great surrealist Leonora Carrington that accompany the chapters in Lilus Kikus expresses a subjective, interiorized vision of the child character's contemplations on life.

"A tantalizingly complex feminist author, whose importance and originality have yet to be appreciated in this country."--Cynthia Steele, author of Politics, Gender, and the Mexican Novel, 1968-1988


Elena Poniatowska is the award-winning author of over fifty books. Born in France to a Mexican citizen of French ancestry, she now lives in Mexico City. In 2004, she was honored with the Legion de Honor del Gobierno de Francia. Poniatowska has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Emeritus Fellowship from Mexico's National Council of Culture and Arts. In 1979, she became the first woman to win the Mexican National Award for Journalism.

Elizabeth Coonrod Martínez is professor of Latin American literature and chair of Chicano and Latino studies at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California.


These translations offer a welcome chance to become familiar with Poniatowski and her distinctly rendered perspective. Recommended for public and academic libraries."


Library Journal

" Lilus Kikus is a rich feast of inspired and original writing."


Santa Fe New Mexican

"Elizabeth Coonrod Martinez' translation captures both the spirit and the rhythm of Poniatowska's original novella about the coming-of-age of a girl in Mexico's moneyed society after World War II."


The Weekly Alibi, NM

"Elizabeth Coonrod Martinez' translation is immensely readable and the prose feels natural."


Southwestern American Literature

5.5 x 8.5 in. 136 pages 10 drawings, 1 halftone