Cuban Leonardo Padura was the writer invited to give the inaugural lecture of the 41st Congress of the IILI, following an already established tradition in which a contemporary author of renowned prestige is always chosen for the opening of the event.
Held July 19-22 in the German city of Jena, the Congress debated the subject “Latin American Literature-Local writers in global contexts” and was attended by more than 300 experts and specialists from diverse parts of the world.
The host city, Jena, is relatively small, in the central zone of Germany but of great importance in German and even universal history and culture since it was one of the centres of German classicism and romanticism. In its old University (1557), which bears the name of the poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller, great figures like philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Schiller himself formed part of its senate of professors.
Padura is considered one of the renowned contemporary authors in the sphere of Iberian-American letters, which is why the IILI has started preparing an anthology with diverse essays and articles about his work.
During his stay in Germany the Cuban writer also carried out presentations in Munich, Stuttgart and Berlin of the translation into German of his book of short stories Aquello estaba deseando ocurrir, a selection of the best stories of the author that have already been published in Spain and France and considerably welcomed by critics and readers.
At the start of his visit to Europe, Padura also attended the Gijón Thriller-Writers Festival, an international meeting that since 1984 gathers in that city in Asturias the writers who cultivate this genre. The media that covered the already traditional meeting described Padura as the star writer of that edition of the Festival.
During his stay in Madrid, before returning to Havana, Padura gave a lecture in the International University of La Rioja, as part of the course “Cuban literature and culture in times of changes”, and held a meeting with an active Reading Club belonging to the Madrid Retina Society, whose members are enthusiastic followers of the Cuban writer.
The peculiar character of this literary group presided over by Guadalupe Iglesias and which is called “Rías Baixas”, is that its access to literature is through the so-called audiobooks, a system that allows blind persons to listen to their favourite titles in a recording.
The meeting of the writer with his “readers” was even more moving because of that peculiarity. They had prepared a singular surprise since they decided to name the locale where it meets as the Leonardo Padura Room and even placed a sort of memorial stone which in addition to the author’s photo includes some significant symbols that are very close to him, like the Cuban flag, the titles of some of his works and the emblem of his baseball team: the Industriales. (2016)
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