On February 26, celebrated Mexican-American poet and author Sandra Cisneros will receive the prestigious PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. Since 2016, PEN has honored a “living author whose body of work, either written in or translated into English, represents the highest level of achievement in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and/or drama, and is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship.” And while the night will be all about her and her work, Cisneros is making the $50,000 prize money all about her assistants.

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Cisneros, the author of coming-of-age novel The House on Mango Street, has revealed that she plans to donate the cash prize to her assistants, so they can buy a home. “With money and fame comes responsibility, and the amount is exactly what they need,” she told NBC News. “They’ve been looking for loans, and the interest in Mexico is 39 percent. I can’t describe how happy it makes me to be able to do this for them.”

The decision isn’t out of character for Cisneros, who believes that success and generosity are tethered to each other.

“I believe that there is a law in the universe that all the work we do is in service to those we love and it’s always going to bring us better rewards and fortune,” she added. “It puts us in a state of grace when you are in service to your community.”


The 2019 PEN America Literary Awards will take place on February 26. Learn more or buy tickets here

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