Leonardo Padura captivates his Panamanian fans

During the Book Fair, held August 16-21, the Cuban writer was named Corresponding Member of the Panamanian Academy of the Language.

Foto: Cortesía de Padura

The Panamanian newspaper La Estrella described Leonardo Padura as a “rock star” of the 12th International Book Fair of Panama 2016, which on this occasion was attended by authors from 16 countries, in addition to the representation of the guest country, the United States.

Though perhaps the term used could seem not very serious to describe an intellectual rather far away from the world of show business, the truth is that Padura increasingly attracts more fans among readers and it seems the Panamanians are not the exception.

The Cuban travelled as a special guest to attend the first edition of “Panama Negro”, a space organised at the same fair and dedicated to detective novels, which brought about the debate about the genre that in recent years has had a veritable boom.

In this context Donde los escorpiones, the most recent novel by Spanish writer Lorenzo Silva, Planeta 2012 award, was presented and Padura was given the Panama Negro Honorary Award, granted for the first time to a writer as recognition for his contribution to that literary current.

Panama’s International Book Fair, sponsored by that country’s Chamber of Books, has been able to become consolidated due to its work in the promotion of reading and increasingly attracts more authors, fundamentally from the sphere of the Spanish language. Those present in this edition included Nicaraguan Sergio Ramírez, Colombian Santiago Gamboa and Panamanian Justo Arroyo, among others. Alberto Barrera Tyszka came from Venezuela with his novel Patria o muerte, and one of Peru’s most important writers attended, Alonso Cueto, who commented La viajera del viento, a book that brings to an end the trilogy Redención, centred on the conflict his country lived with the emergence of the Sendero Luminoso armed group.

The Fair was also attended by a notable representation of writers, especially Rosa Beltrán, from Mexico, winner of the Planeta-Joaquín Mortiz 1995 award with La corte de los ilusos; and Chilean Carla Guelfenbein, who won the Alfaguara 2015 Award with the novel Contigo en la distancia.

Padura’s presence at the Fair culminated on August 19 with his appointment as Corresponding Member of the Panamanian Academy of the Language, an institution that celebrated its 90 years of creation. The ceremony was held during a solemn session open to the public and with the presence of its director, Margarita Vázquez Quirós.

It should be recalled that in early 2016 the Cuban writer also received a similar recognition by the Puerto Rican Academy of the Language for his outstanding work in the sphere of literature. (2016)

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