Five books to start reading Poniatowska

This May 19, the Mexican writer born in France in 1932, Elena Poniatowska, will be 90 years old. He has an extensive literary career that encompasses various genres such as short stories, chronicles, novels, testimonial books and even children’s books, which alternated with a career journalistic which started in 1953.

Poniatowska was born in Paris years before the outbreak of the WWII. Her full name is Hélène Elizabeth Louise Amélie Paula Dolores Poniatowska Amor, she arrived in Mexico in 1942 because her mother emigrated to the south of France due to the war. The author had a training in English and Spanish and by 1949 she studied in the United States. Elena not only dedicated herself to making fictional stories, she has also dedicated herself to portraying the reality of Mexico.

She has been recognized for works such as “La noche de Tlatelolco”, a testimonial book about the massacre that occurred in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, on October 2, 1968, which won her the Xavier Villaurrutia Award.

On this special date, a good way to celebrate the author is by reading her, so we recommend five books to start entering her literary and journalistic universe.

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Where to enter the work of Poniatowska?

Although the author has published several books, here we mention five that are a good start to enjoy reading.

“Lilus Kikus”

Elena published her first novel called “Lilus Kikus” in 1955, the story, which is intended for children, narrates the process from childhood to puberty with a touch of social criticism. In addition, the text takes up the questions and concerns that used to arise in boys and girls regarding their destiny as preparation for marriage. The story is accompanied by illustrations by the English painter Leonora Carrington.

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“The night of Tlatelolco”

When we think of Elena Poniatowska, the work that comes to mind is “The Night of Tlatelolco”, a work that portrays the crudeness with which university students were murdered in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas on October 2, 1968. A chronicle based on this event that marked Mexico and for which in 1971 she received the Xavier Villaurrutia Award, which she rejected.

“The Polish Lover” Book 1 and Book 2

The Polish Lover, in two parts, narrates the life of Stanislaw II Augustus Poniatowski, the last king of Poland, who held power from 1764 to 1795. Although Augustus is the main character of the story, the women around him stand out they become the main protagonists, since they end up taking the destiny of the Polish nation. The story not only focuses on historical situations, it is a story that takes up the family roots of the writer.


This story written in 2011 takes up the life and work of the English painter Leonora Carrington, who was one of the most important artists of the surrealist movement. Leonora herself made paintings, engravings, sculptures, as well as novels and stories. Poniatowska creates a narrated biography that connects with the surrealist movement in France. The painter herself died on May 25, 2011 in Mexico City.

“Until I see you my Jesus”

Elena has a personal stamp: she criticizes the ancient times of Mexico. Her novel “Hasta no verte Jesús mía” deals with the story of an Oaxacan woman who lived through the Mexican Revolution. Jesusa Palancares, the protagonist, lives in an environment of poverty, and due to various difficulties in her life, such as the death of her mother, violence by her military husband, among other situations, they take her to Mexico City where she begins to work as a servant, laundress and factory worker.

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National Tribute to Elena Poniatowska, in Fine Arts

The writer Elena Poniatowska will receive a National Tribute from the Government of Mexico on May 19. The event will be held in the main hall of the Palace of Fine Arts, at 12 noon. Free entrance.

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