MONTEVIDEO – Cuba and Uruguay are small countries with a large number of important authors who have produced a “disproportionate” body of literature, Cuban writer Leonardo Padura said Thursday.
“Cuba is like Uruguay. For such small countries to have produced so much literature and art, I think, is not the norm,” Padura said.
The 61-year-old Padura, winner of the 2015 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature, was declared an “illustrious visitor” in Montevideo at a ceremony attended by Mayor Daniel Martinez, Culture Minister Edith Moraes and Cuban Ambassador to Uruguay Mercedes Vicente Sotolongo.
Both countries have been linked “for a long, long time,” the ambassador said, adding that Cuban independence hero and poet Jose Marti served as consul in Uruguay for a time.
“We have had a very intense personal and cultural relationship, that outsized Uruguayan literature with authors such as Felisberto Hernandez, Juan Carlos Onetti, Mario Benedetti and my friend, Eduardo Galeano, and so many other writers who have enriched Latin American literature, and who have helped us, Cuban writers,” Padura said.
Moraes, for her part, said that “Padura is a true master of universal narrative whose work has been translated into 22 languages and has cultivated story telling in its many different forms.”
As a journalist, Moraes said, Padura “has given us unforgettable pages that bring us close to fragments of Cuban life and history in ways that not even the defter use of professional sociological and historiographic tools could achieve.”
Padura discussed the challenges a writer encounters in conveying reality to readers “who it is hard sometimes to find and persuade, even more so in our contemporary world, where the book is being regrettably cornered.”
The Cuban author has written dozens of novels and short stories, tackling characters as complex as Leon Trotsky and his assassin, Ramon Mercader, as well as Ernest Hemingway.
“I am grateful (for this honor) to a country that holds such a special place in our affections as Uruguay, and a city such as Montevideo that looks so much like Havana,” Padura said.