Friday, March 4, 2011

Bienvenido a Leonardo de la Caridad Padura Fuentes!

I just received an e-mail from Leonardo Padura in Havana.  Taking a break from filming Siete dias en La Habana (Seven Days in Havana) with visiting actor and first-time director Benicio del Toro, Padura wrote to inform me that he has been granted a visa to travel to the U.S. during March and April to promote his latest book, El hombre que amaba a los perros (The Man Who Loved Dogs). 

This more good, welcome news for those of us who advocate for an expansion of cultural, educational, and people-to-people exchange between the U.S. and Cuba. 

For those unfamiliar with Padura's work, some of which has been translated into English, you can go here and here for previous posts where I discuss him and his work.  When I was still a graduate student at Tulane Univeristy in the late 1990s, I was lucky enough to meet him and even take a few classes from him as part of an exchange of writers, artists, scholars, and intellectuals that was quite active under the Clinton administration.

From the impression I had of him then, and have deepened since from reading many of his books (music journalism, literary criticism, crime novels, and historical novels), I can say that this guy will blow your socks off whatever your political persuasion or allegiances.  He has a sharp, critical mind and his books unflinchingly depict Cuba's rich, complex culture and history, as well as the beauty and tragedy of today's Havana with a love and fidelity bordering on obsession.

Padura will be at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from March 24-26 for a writer's conference, before arriving in New York for public events at Princeton University (March 29), Baruch College (March 31 - see below for more information on this event), The Bildner Center as part of the three-day Cuba Futures Symposium (March 31), and New York's Instituto Cervantes (April 1).  He will also make a quick stop at Chicago's branch of Instituto Cervantes (April 6), before returning to Cuba. 

Though he will be passing through Miami, that city and state's singularly obstructionist foreign policy has made it impossible for any public univeristy there to sponsor an event with him.  

I guess any interested miamenses will have to travel north to hear this amazing writer. 

The Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature
The Department of Black and Hispanic Studies
and the Paul André Feit Memorial Fund cordially invite you to
a book reading and discussion by:

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Welcoming remarks by:
Professor Ted Henken, Chair
Department of Black and Hispanic Studies

Introduction and Presentation by:
Professor Lourdes Gil
Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature
and Black and Hispanic Studies


LEONARDO PADURA is Cuba's foremost living writer. A novelist, literary critic and journalist, his last novel El hombre que amaba a los perros (The Man Who Loved Dogs) on Trotsky's assassination, is "a fascinating historical exploration of how socialism, the great utopia of the 20th century, became corrupted."

Date: March 31, 2011
Place: Baruch College, 55 Lexington Ave., Room: 3-150
(Vertical Campus Bldg.)
Time: 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
All Are Welcome! - You must bring Picture ID

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