Cuban writer Leonardo Padura and his colleagues Sergio Ramírez, from Nicaragua, and Antonio Skarmeta, from Chile, have just been extolled as Corresponding Members of the Puerto Rican Academy of the Spanish Language, “in view of their literary and intellectual merits and the interest and solidarity” that the three have demonstrated “for Puerto Rico’s literary and cultural affairs,” according to the official press release by the president of that institution, Puerto Rican poet José Luis Vega.
The official ceremony of the extolling of these three important figures of contemporary Latin American literature will be held next March 16, while the 7th International Congress of the Spanish Language is being held, on this occasion with the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, as its venue.
The category of Corresponding Academician is granted to intellectuals who do not reside in Puerto Rico but who have had close cultural relations with the island.
In his personal letter of acceptance of his entry into the Puerto Rican Academy, Padura (who is not a member of the Cuban Academy) wrote to its president:
Dear José Luis:
As you can imagine, receiving your letter in which you notify me of the honour granted to me by the Academy of the Language of Puerto Rico has been a very agreeable surprise for me. As you know, I have always said that if I hadn’t been from Havana I would have wanted to be from Matanzas; and if I hadn’t been Cuban, well, then Puerto Rican. Therefore my joy is double, since the honour does not come from just anywhere but rather from my other beloved island….”
During the Congress of the Language, Padura, winner of the most recent Princess of Asturias Prize for Literature, will speak as a special guest during the event’s closing session, and for this occasion – he advances – he has prepared a short essay titled “La ciudad de laspalabras” (The City of Words), in which he will analyse Havana’s literary “construction” through its narrative, from its beginning in the 1830s to the novels of the deconstruction and the ruins that is imposed in the last years of the last century and the present ones of the 21st century.
Before the holding of the Congress, Padura plans to give a course in the Río Piedras building of the University of Puerto Rico, with the title of “¿Para qué se escribeunanovela?”(Why is a Novel Written?), an event that has awoken great interest among the students and professors of the centre of higher studies. In addition, he will present an Antología personal (Personal Anthology) of his work (fiction, essay, journalism), brought out by the university’s publishing house. (2016)
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