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'Mambo Kings' Author Presents Sequel

Diane Lowman, 50, of Westport, was one of the first to snag Pulitzer Prize winning author Oscar Hijuelos' autograph after he left the podium at the Westport Library. The 59-year-old Cuban-American author, best known for writing "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love" was presenting his new book, "Beautiful Maria of My Soul."

"It was amazing and I love to hear writers give their about writing," said Lowman as she clutched his book on the way out of the library. "We're lucky to have someone like him here," she added. Hijuelos is spending his summer in Westport, and agreed to give an author's discussion at the library.

Hijuelos was full of energy and humor throughout his presentation, as he talked about growing up with a Cuban heritage, the literary fame that came with winning the Pulitzer Prize for "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love" and even his feelings on Antonia Banderas–who played one of the leads in a movie adaptation of his work.

With "Beautiful Maria of My Soul," Hijuelos returns to the world of the Mambo Kings. This time he focuses on a love interest and muse from the first book. Maria it turns out, is not a huge fan of the movie. "Maria sees the movie in this novel and complains, 'Why isn't there more of me in it?'" Hijuelos said.

During the academic year, Hijuelos teaches at Duke University. To punctuate his despair at the state of modern literature, he will teach a course where his student's must take poorly constructed paragraphs from famous works, and rewrite them.

As to his love of reading, Hijuelos considers it a journey with no destination. He likened his feelings to traveling. "If you live to be 150 and spend all of your time going one place to another, you'll still never see every place possible," Hijuelos said.

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