Saturday, December 4

Colombian literature: Colombia in ten writers, a diversity with all the letters | Babelia


1. Laura Restrepo. The novel of politics

cover 'Los Divinos', LAURA RESTREPO.  EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA
cover ‘Los Divinos’, LAURA RESTREPO. EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA

Among all the Colombian creators, none has been as close to the political reality of Colombia as Laura Restrepo (Bogotá, 1950) was. In 1983 he was part of the Peace, Dialogue and Verification Commission that he should negotiate peace with the guerrilla group M-19. The experience and situation forced him to emigrate from Colombia due to threats against his life, and it was not until six years later that he managed to return. A leftist militant and always interested in opening the channels for dialogue between the guerrillas and the government, as well as a journalist (at one point in his life García Márquez was his tutor), Restrepo has achieved a unique style in Colombian letters. Winner of the VII Alfaguara Prize 2004 with Delirium, has left a series of novels that allow a moral X-ray of the country, as can be seen in Leopard in the sun (1993), Sweet company (1995), The dark bride (1999), Hot On (2012) and The divine (2018).

2. Tomás González. Far from everything, close to silence

cover 'The end of the Pacific Ocean', TOMÁS GONZÁLEZ.  EDITORIAL SEIX BARRAL
cover ‘The end of the Pacific Ocean’, TOMÁS GONZÁLEZ. EDITORIAL SEIX BARRAL

Until a few years ago it was said that Tomás González (Medellín, 1950) was the best kept secret in Colombian literature, but now it is difficult to find a Colombian reader who does not know him. He published in 1983 what for many is still his best novel, First there was the sea, and since then he has woven a literary saga that is not only that of his own family, but that of many families from Antioquia. Just write down For before oblivion (1987) the Abraham among bandits (2010), and novels like Difficult light (2011) in which he managed to speak in a key of pain to Colombian readers. The end of the pacific ocean (2020), his latest and for some the best novel, talks about a region as forgotten by the Colombian state as it is poetic: the Pacific. Contrary to the Latin American narrative tradition, González’s prose seeks silences, always under the influence of Buddhism.

3. Mercy Bonnett. Life or death poetry

cover 'What has no name', PIEDAD BONNETT.  EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA
cover ‘What has no name’, PIEDAD BONNETT. EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA

Piedad Bonnett (Amalfi, 1951) has been a benchmark in Colombian poetry since he published his first book of poems in 1989, From circles of ash which have been followed by another seven, among which we highlight Inheritances (2008) and Explanations not requested (2011), both published by Visor. She is the author in addition to five other novels, After all (2001), For others it is heaven (2004), It was always winter (2007), The prestige of beauty (2010) and Where nobody waits for me (2018). She is also a translator and author of four plays. But without a doubt his book that generated the most impact among the Colombian public was the memoirs about the death of his son, What has no name. In a country where so many mothers have lost their children, Bonnett’s voice rose like a sword of light.

4. Evelio Rosero. Violence as identity

cover 'House of fury', EVELIO ROSERO.  EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA
cover ‘House of fury’, EVELIO ROSERO. EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA

Less of a figure than many other Colombian creators, Evelio Rosero (Bogotá, 1958) it is still one of the narrative voices that has best portrayed the violent past that Colombia has lived through. Author of more than a dozen novels, he was The armies (2006) which allowed her to become known not only for her way of portraying armed violence, but also for being worthy of the Independent Foreign Prize in the United Kingdom (2009) and the ALOA Prize in Denmark (2011). Six years and three novels later, he won the National Novel Prize for Bolívar’s float (2012). With a clear interest in the ways in which violence has impacted the country, his latest novel is not very different: in House of fury (2021), Rosero manages through a tragicomic lens to represent all the typical characters from Colombia who have managed to leave the country where it is: in the war for isolation.

5. Héctor Abad Faciolince. Against oblivion

Héctor Abad Faciolince (Medellín, 1958) represents in Colombia, since the publication of his report The oblivion that we will be (2006), the reality of the sons and daughters of those killed by violence. With its film version released no more than a year ago under the direction of Fernando Trueba, the name of Faciolince continues to gain followers for a story that not only portrays the reality of a violent country, but also the sadness of a son who loses his father in violent circumstances. Poet and columnist, Faciolince has published other novels among which we can highlight Trash (2000), Dawn of a husband (2008) and The hidden (2014). In 2019 he surprised his readers with the publication of What was present. Diaries (1985-2006), where he not only strips naked as a son, writer and reader, but also as a writer who does not wait for his death to publish what he has thought about himself and about others.

6. Pilar Quintana. The depths of the Pacific

cover 'Los abismos', PILAR QUINTANA.  EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA
cover ‘Los abismos’, PILAR QUINTANA. EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA

Winner of the XXIV Alfaguara Novel Prize with the novel The abysses (2021), Pilar Quintana (Cali, 1972) has become one of the most important female voices in contemporary Colombian literature. She was chosen in 2007 by the Hay Festival as one of the 39 most important authors under 39 years of age, and the selection did not fail: her novel The dog (2017) received the IV Colombian Narrative Library Prize in 2018. Additionally, he has published the novels Tickling the tongue (2003), Rare Dust Collectors (2010), Iguana conspiracy (2009) and the collection of short stories Little red riding hood eats the wolf (2012). Pilar Quintana’s narrative and style represents current affairs in Latin American literature written by women.

7. Juan Gabriel Vásquez. History and fiction

cover 'Back the view', JUAN GABRIEL VÁSQUEZ.  EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA
cover ‘Back the view’, JUAN GABRIEL VÁSQUEZ. EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA

Of all the Colombian writers, it is possibly Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Bogotá, 1973) the only one who has proposed to develop a work that seeks to establish the way in which literature allows us to understand the violent past and present of Colombia: that is, its history. His first novels reflect on the memory of a country and the personal past of its inhabitants: Informants (2004) visit the implications of the Nazis in Colombia during the Second World War, Secret history of Costaguana (2007) visit in code conradian the loss of the Panama Canal and in The sound of the things when they fall (2011), which won him the XIV Alfaguara Novel Prize 2011, visits the birth of the war on drugs. On The shape of the ruins (2015) and in Back to back view (2020), delves into the imperceptible limits between fiction, national life and reality.

8. Ricardo Silva Romero. Sensible voice

cover'Río Muerto ', RICARDO SILVA ROMERO.  EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA
cover’Río Muerto ‘, RICARDO SILVA ROMERO. EDITORIAL ALFAGUARA

Over the last few years the voice of the novelist and columnist (among others, from EL PAÍS) Ricardo Silva Romero (Bogotá, 1975) He has spoken to Colombians in many ways. Your weekly column Funeral march, In the diary Time, has allowed him to become, in some way, for many Colombian readers in the voice of good sense. Although from his novel Own goal (2009) had delved into the most sensitive issues in Colombian history when visiting the assassination of defender Andrés Escobar after his own goal during the 1994 Soccer World Cup, his last three novels have been, Official love story (2016), How to lose it all (2018) and Dead river (2020), the latter one of the most stark stories about what the struggle between life and death is, in which Silva has shown how much he knows Colombians, and how much he recognizes the way they feel.

9. Melba Escobar. A look at the upper class

cover 'When we were happy but we didn't know it', MELBA ESCOBAR.  EDITORIAL SEIX BARRAL
cover ‘When we were happy but we didn’t know it’, MELBA ESCOBAR. EDITORIAL SEIX BARRAL

Columnist, journalist and novelist, Melba Escobar (Bogotá, 1976) In the last five years, he has managed to produce a work that has allowed him to be recognized both for his novelistic fluency and for his view of the social and political reality of the country. Planet published his first novel, Sleep (2010) and his children’s book Johnny and the sea (2014) was part of the 2015 White Ravens catalog. But it wasn’t until he published the thriller The house of beauty (2015) that demonstrated his capacity for observation on the Colombian upper class, and in The woman who spoke alone (2019), her capacity for psychological introspection when portraying a woman who survived an attack at a shopping center. His latest book, When we were happy and we didn’t know (2020), writes about the situation in Venezuela after visiting it on four recent occasions.

10. Margarita García Robayo. Raw truth

cover 'First Person', MARGARITA GARCÍA ROBAYO.  TRANSIT EDITORIAL
cover ‘First Person’, MARGARITA GARCÍA ROBAYO. TRANSIT EDITORIAL

Margarita García Robayo (Cartagena de Indias, 1980) It is undoubtedly the one who has best developed a narrative style that represents the power of the gaze converted into diction, narration and description. His novels Until a hurricane passes (2012) and What i didn’t learn (2013), included in Time-out (2017), attest to this, as well as their collection of short stories First person (2017) and Worse things (2014), among others, have positioned her as an author who moves on both shores. Finalist for the Colombian Narrative Library Award in 2015 with the novel What I didn’t learn and then winner of the 2014 Casa de las Américas Award for the book of short stories Worse things, García Robayo is an author destined to be one of the most powerful and authentic voices in Colombian literature, with a literary style that few readers will forget.

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