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Laura Esquivel: 1951 (?)—: Novelist Biography

Attracted To 1960s Counterculture, Book Illustrated With Drawings

Laura Esquivel: 1951 (?)—: Novelist.

Like Water for Chocolate, a unique novel in the form of a cookbook by the Mexican writer Laura Esquivel, became one of the surprise literary hits of the 1990s and spawned one of the most successful foreign-language films of all time in the United States. Esquivel followed up that novel with other works that, if less consistently acclaimed, displayed equal originality. Like her Chilean contemporary Isabel Allende, Esquivel put a feminist twist on the important Latin American literary trend of "magical realism," embedding supernatural elements symbolic of deep forces inside conventionally realistic narratives. With her sense of humor and her winning way of describing family dynamics in Like Water for Chocolate, however, Esquivel merged magical realism with a storyteller's common touch.

Born in Mexico City around 1951, Esquivel was the daughter of a telegraph operator—a profession that plays a role in Esquivel's novel Swift as Desire. Although many novelists look back on a childhood filled with books, Esquivel gained her narrative sense from stories told to her by her parents, especially her father. "I loved to get sick because he'd come and stay with me and invent stories with great characters," Esquivel told Southwest Review. "A long time ago he bought a reel-to-reel tape recorded and we would spend whole afternoons inventing stories and taping them, with all kinds of interesting sound effects and things." Esquivel also inherited a wealth of cooking lore from her grandmother.

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