The One-Handed Pianist was published to acclaim in the early 1990s, with the two-part Spanish edition winning the Latino Literature Prize in 1989 and the Gamma Literature Prize in 1992. Its tales look at what it means to be Jewish in the Hispanic world - a world in which spirituality is often exercised outside the realm of orthodoxy. Stavans constructs fables that raise questions about ethnicity and community; even Stavans' person raises questions about ethnicity and community: what does it mean that a Jew of Eastern European lineage can call himself Latino and speak for that group?
Born in Mexico to Russian-Polish Jewish parents, Ilan Stavans is a lexicographer, cultural commentator, and author who teaches at Amherst College in Massachusetts. His works include Dictionary Days, Spanglish, the graphic novel Latino USA, and the autobiography On Borrowed Words.