Thursday, March 31, 2011

Press Release: Cuban writer Leonardo Padura to speak at Baruch/CUNY

Dear Friends,

The Third Annual Paul Andre Feit Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Cuban writer Leonardo Padura Fuentes (see bio below) tomorrow, March 31, 2011 at Baruch College, City University of New York.

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Padura will read from his sensational historical novel, "El hombre que amaba a los perros," a book that takes its readers from the Spanish Civil War, to the Russian Revolution, to the Special Period in Times of Peace; from Moscow, to Siberia, to Turkey; and from Barcelona, to Coyacan, Mexico, to Havana, Cuba - all chronicling the final years in the extraordinary life of of Leon Trotsky and his encounter with and assassination by the Catalan Stalinist secret agent Ramon Mercader (who lived out his own final years in anonymity in Cuba).

The reading will take place in Spanish.  
Lunch will be served.

Leonardo Padura will be introduced by Profs. Ted Henken and Lourdes Gil. The lecture is organized by the Dept of Black and Hispanic Studies with assistance from the Department of Modern Languages.

Time: March 31, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Place: Baruch College, 24th and Lexington, NYC, Room VC 3-150
All are welcome; Bring ID

PS: Padrua will be speaking again on Thursday evening from 5:45 to 6:30 at the Elebash Recital Hall at the CUNY Graduate Center (34th and 6th) in conversation with Mexican novelist Carmen Bullosa as part of the Cuba Futures Symposium.

On Friday, April 1, he will be interviewed for the programs Contraportada and Pura Politica of New York 1 (Noticias) and by Carmen Bullosa for the CUNY TV program Nueva York.

On Friday evening, he will do a reading at New York's Instituto Cervantes @ 215 E 49th Street at 6:30 p.m.

Who is Padura?  Read on for his bio...

LEONARDO PADURA FUENTES (Havana, 1955- ) is Cuba’s foremost contemporary novelist and one of its most sharp-eyed cultural critics. His prolific output in a wide array of genres includes literary criticism, music reviews, investigative journalism, screenplays, short stories, historical novels, and most famously, a series of wildly popular crime novels.

This series of detective novels (known as las cuatro estaciones, “the four seasons” or “The Havana Quartet”) features the intrepid and all-too-human Havana inspector Mario Conde. The original four novels in the series are Pasado perfecto, 1991 (Havana Blue, 2007), Vientos de cuaresma, 1994 (Havana Gold, 2008), Mascaras, 1997 (Havana Red, 2005), and Paisaje de otoño, 1998 (Havana Black, 2006). Conde also appears in two of Padura’s other novels, Adiós, Hemingway (2004) and La neblina de ayer (Havana Fever, 2005) and Padura is currently working on the seventh title in the Conde series, rumored to feature a plot line that mixes the history of Havana's Polish Jews with that of the city's many "urban tribes" of today.

However, Padura's most ambitious works to date, what many consider two of the best novels written in Cuba in the last half century, are his pair of historical novels: La Novela de Mi Vida (The Novel of My Life, 2001), a fictionalized account of the life of the 19th century Cuban poet José María Heredia, and El hombre que amaba a los perros (The Man Who Loved Dogs, 2009), an extraordinary fictionalized exploration of the internal struggles of the socialist project during the course of the 20th century culminating in an account of one of the most grizzly and notorious political assassinations of the 20th century: that of Leon Trotsky by Spanish assassin and Soviet agent Ramón Mercader, who lived the last years of his life and died in Havana. The novel was among five finalists for Book of the Year in Spain in 2010 and has been described as "a fascinating historical exploration of how socialism, the great utopia of the 20th century, became corrupted."

A graduate in Philology from the University of Havana in 1980, Padura began his professional career as a journalist and critic at the monthly Cuban cultural magazine, El Caimán Barbudo (1980-1983) and later at the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (1983-1989). En 1988, he published his first novel, Fiebre de caballos, a semi-autobiographical tale drawn from his student years with illustrations by the Cuban artist Zaida del Río.

In 1985, Padura was sent to Angola as a war correspondent. This intense experience, which the author defines as "the year of fear," inspired many of the references, episodes, and characters found in his fiction. A baseball fanatic and passionate fan of the Cuban team, the Industriales, Padura is also the author of the book El alma en el terreno (1989), a compilation of interviews with ledgendary baseball players from the 1960s.

Padura's other books of literary and cultural criticism include a spoken history of salsa music, Rostros de la salsa (Faces of Salsa, 1997), a book of interviews with Cuba’s leading artists and writers, Culture and the Cuban Revolution (written with Canadian John M. Kirk, 2001), a collection of his journalism for Inter Press Service Entre dos siglos (IPS, 2006), and a detailed study of the life’s work of Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, Un camino de medio siglo: Alejo Carpentier y la narrativa de lo real maravilloso (A Half-Century’s Journey: Alejo Carpentier and the Narrative of Magical Realism, 1994).

Padura wrote the screenplay for the acclaimed music documentary Yo soy del son a la salsa (1997) and is currently collaborating with a group of international directors in Havana (including the actor Benicio del Toro) bringing to life his screen play for the movie Siete dias en La Habana (Seven Days in Havana), which is currently being filmed in the Cuban capital.

-Bio compiled by Ted Henken and Wilfredo Cancio Isla

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