Leonardo Padura Fuentes, 2013 National Prize for Literature, was the figure invited by the usual meeting “The Author and his Work,” whose aim is to recognise writers, researchers and editors with an outstanding trajectory in the island.
Organised by the Cuban Book Institute, the meeting took place on October 19, to greet the National Day of Culture, in one of the rooms of Havana’s San Gerónimo University School.
By way of opening, Padura’s acceptance speech for the official awards ceremony of the 2015 Princess of Asturias Literary Prize, in which the author especially highlights his rooted belonging to Cuban culture, was broadcast for the first time in Cuba, in a space open to the public.
Subsequently, historian and poet Rafael Acosta de Arriba coordinated the panel in charge of commenting diverse aspects of the work of the narrator and journalist, winner of numerous recognitions in Cuba and abroad throughout his career.
Poet Alex Feites referred to his long-standing and personal relationship with Padura, which dates back to the years when they were young students and which was later consolidated in the university classrooms. He also read a beautiful text dedicated to his “contemporary” Mario Conde, the popular character of the detective series written by Padura.
Narrator and scriptwriter Arturo Arango reflected on the detective element in the work of the writer and, among other aspects, emphasised the peculiar dimension reached by its protagonist, investigator Mario Conde. According to Arango, to date in Cuban literature there had only been a character like Cecilia Valdés that had leapt from the pages of a book to form part of the popular imagination. However, in his opinion “El Conde” has also repeated this phenomenon, perhaps because in his literary construction Padura has passed on many of the features of the Cuban of today and of his surroundings.
Meanwhile, the also narrator Francisco López Sacha dealt with the historic dimension that stands out in some of Padura’s most relevant novels, like La novela de mi vida, El hombre que amaba a los perros and Herejes. In all of them, Sacha highlighted, the writer does not aim to recreate History per se, but rather the research into the past is used as a sort of passageway to get to the present and understand it better.
Apropos of this idea, Padura confirmed that in the novel he is currently writing and whose protagonist is again Mario Conde, he also resorts to History but in a way in which there are several moments distant in time but that behave as a series of transparencies.
To conclude, Padura read a fragment of this novel he plans to conclude next year and whose tentative title is precisely La transparencia del tiempo, whose centre of interest is showing man marked by his circumstance. (2016)
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