meet Cinelle

Cinelle Barnes is an essayist, memoirist, and educator with a BA in media studies in journalism from Hunter College and a master of fine arts in creative writing from Converse College. Books have been the one constant in her life—through her tumultuous childhood in the Philippines, her years living as an undocumented immigrant in the New York City, her time as a new bride living in the American South, and as she completed her MFA program and began writing about her secrets. 

Barnes is also an AWP Journal Intro Award nominee, a Kundiman Creative Non-Fiction Intensive Fellow, a VONA/Voices alum for political content writing at the University of Pennsylvania, a presenter and panelist on Diversity in Literature at the Creative Writing Studies Conference at Warren Wilson College, a founding member of the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference, a screener for WILLA: Women Writing the American West, and the incoming writer-in-residence at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston. 

Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Literary Hub, Catapult, Buzzfeed, South 85, TAYO Literary Journal, Skirt!, West Of, Your Life Is A Trip, the Piccolo Spoleto Fiction Series, and Hub City Press’s online anthology, Multicultural Spartanburg. Her first book, Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir, was released in May 2018 (Little A).

Barnes teaches writing workshops throughout the year, including Poses and Prose, a yoga + writing workshop.



Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir


Barnes' debut memoir, Monsoon Mansion, is available through and independent booksellers in Spring 2018 (Little A).

Praise for Cinelle Barnes:

“In this incandescent debut memoir, Cinelle Barnes forges memories of her family’s downfall with tumultuous Filipino history. Like the storm in its title, Monsoon Mansion immerses us in the darkest waters of memory, stirring up unbearably brutal childhood events with lyrical prose and searing imagery, forming a woven tale that is both delicate and electric. This book assures us that even when we lose those things that give shape to our humanity—our roots, culture, and family—we can go on to devise a new way of being.”

—Susan Tekulve, author of In the Garden of Stone

“The princess becomes a pauper before she turns eleven, yet through grit and love and words, that princess, Cinelle Barnes, escapes a fallen-in mansion and broken family to survive. Light fills this beautiful memoir—breaking through the dark loneliness of a mansion with no electricity. And light will fill you and carry you on, dear reader, even after you turn the last page. Monsoon Mansion sings a song of rain and sparkling light, and like its author, we’ll all come to know the diamonds we carry in our palms.”

—Jim Minick, author of Fire Is Your Water

A young essayist’s memoir of her extraordinary riches-to-rags childhood in the Philippines…In this tender and eloquent tale, the author plumbs the depths of family dysfunction while telling a harrowing story of survival graced by moments of unexpected magic. A lyrically heartfelt memoir of resilience in the face of significant obstacles.
— Kirkus
Reminiscent of both Jeanette Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle (2005), and Sandra Cisneros’ seminal novel The House on Mango Street (1984), this is a story of a tragic childhood told in a remarkably uplifting voice. Barnes imbues scenes from her interrupted childhood with an artistic touch that reads like literary fiction. Luminescent and shattering, Barnes’ first book is a triumph: a conquering of the past through the power of the written word.
— Booklist, Starred Review


Book Tour

Charleston Library Society, Charleston, May 1, 6:00

Powerhouse Arena, Brooklyn, May 7, 7:00 

Laurel Bookstore, Bay Area, May 17, 6:30 

Halls Signature Events Author Series Luncheon, May 31, 12:00 

Avid Bookshop Five Points, Athens,June 2, 6:00 

Hub City Press, Spartanburg, June 6 , 6pm

Converse College, Spartanburg, June 7, 10:00 

Get Lit Supper + Book Club, N Chas, June 19 

Duende District + Torpedo Factory, Alexandria, June 30, 3:30 (RSVP required)

Park Road Books, Charlotte, July 11

M Judson Books, Greenville, July 12

Barnes & Noble, Huntersville, NC, July 14

Kweli Journal + International Literary Festival, New York Times Building, July 21 (Registration required)

Charleston County Library + Writing Workshop and Reading, Aug 1 (Registration required)