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LEONARDO PADURA

Writer

Leonardo Padura's interview
Leonardo Padura's interview
00:05:51
Leonardo Padura Fuentes is the most widely known author working in Cuba today. He has written movie scripts, two books of short stories and a series of detective novels translated into 10 languages at last count. His political essays serve as teaching aides for university courses around the world.

Despite all this, Padura (as he calls himself) doesn’t draw many visitors from abroad. Tourists rarely get anywhere close to his book-lined study in the working-class suburb of Mantilla. No, the crowds who come to Havana looking for a writer mostly come looking for Ernest Hemingway. They flock to the Floridita bar where he drank his frozen daiquiris. They cluster around the Ambos Mundos Hotel, Hemingway’s first Cuban residence.

It’s not surprising, then, that Leonardo Padura’s prolific pen should take aim at the whole Hemingway-in-Cuba legend. It’s a match-up that needed to happen – hard-working Cuban author stands up to dead American icon. Native son goes toe-to-toe with celebrity expat. And yet “Adios, Hemingway”, despite the seeming threat of its knock-out title, pulls more punches than it throws at old Papa. Padura is clearly more interested in understanding the legend than destroying it. “I wanted to write about a more real-life Hemingway,” Padura says. “The novel focuses on the 1950s, when Hemingway was starting to face his two greatest fears: the inability to write and his own death.”

“Adios, Hemingway” is a murder mystery, the fifth in the Mario Conde series (and Padura’s first to have been translated into English, in 2005). Mario Conde is a cop who would rather be a writer, and admits to feelings of “solidarity with writers, crazy people, and drunkards." Late-‘50s Hemingway fit easily into all three categories, but there was a problem: he typically betrayed people who had been good to him, and that’s something that Conde and his creator have trouble forgiving. So when Conde unearths a 40-year-old cadaver in Hemingway’s backyard, he goes after his man with the zeal of a Philip Marlowe or any other fictional sleuth worth his salt.
Hemingway and Padura have some things in common: the beard, the occasional guayabera shirt, the keen interest in sports (Padura hoped to become a pro baseball player until he realised “I didn’t have enough strength to be a good hitter”). Both men started out as journalists and let their reporter’s eye lead them to a kind of fiction that strives, above all, to tell the truth. And both men chose to live and work away from Havana’s center: Padura in the house, built by his grandfather, where he was born; Hemingway in his “Finca Vigia” (Lookout Farm), a 19th-century estate situated about 16 kilometres east of Havana.

The similarities end abruptly when it comes to matters of character. The hand-written sign on Hemingways’ front gate read: "Uninvited visitors will not be received." Padura is an exceedingly generous host, a man who seems to like nothing better than devoting time to his guests, invited or not.

When asked to explain why he can’t imagine leaving Havana, the setting for all his novels so far, Padura shrugs, than says, “I’m a talkative person. Havana is a place where you can always strike up a conversation with a stranger at a bus stop.”
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Comments
rojas
I would like to get in touch by e-mail with Leonardo Padura.I met him years ago in our high school years.I am very proud of his work and what he had become.
shea
Good writing! Love the books. Also - check out a good cuban novel of 1933 www.obinibata.com
Havana Cultura
Hola Yaset, si la casa que sale en el video es su casa. Le mando la direccion de email de Leonardo Padura para que pueda contactarle directamente. Saludos.
Yaset
Hola mi nombre es Yaset lopez, nací en Mantilla, calle Anita nº 10 entre progreso y segunda y he visto este video de este escritor que no le conocía. Para no ser tan extenso en este mensaje, me gustaría estar en contacto con Leonardo Padura, pasé muchisimas veces por su casa si es la que sale en el video. Por favor me gustaría estar en contacto. Gracias
renacer
I am sorry... Excelente escritor, refleja la sociedad cubana sin tapujos, pero muy magistralmente... uno de nuestros mejores escritores...
Sylvie
J'ai adoré l'atmosphère si particulière du roman qui m'a donné le désir de visiter un jour Cuba. Sylvie (New Calédonia)
Pierrette
El hombre que amaba a los perros: I've been stunned by this book, so much that I had to put it down sometimes to get some fresh air. Not only Trotski and the USSR, Mercader and the Spanish Civil War, but also so much of my own forgotten 'mythology' were suddendly waken and reassembled. This book is a terramoto, and a therapy. Like psychoanalysis, it may not cure our sadness but it gives it a name and that is what helps. which much respect and solidaridad !
Miguel
before i visit Cuba in 2009 i started to read lenonardo. and i found a excellent writer.
Colette
Lei todas las novelas de L. Padura con mucho gusto y mucho placer, y me llamo la atencion, ya porque tendo la misma edad que vos Leonardo, que tambien si yo creci en Suiza, tenemos los mismos valores y muchos otros puntos comunes. Vino a la Havana hace 5 años, y no tuvé el coraje de llamarte porque sé que es muy peligroso encontrar a uno escritor que nos gusta, una gran desilusion a veces, pero ahora que vi esta video, m juré que la proxima vez, te llamaré seguramente ! Todos mis respectos, tambien por este amor que dura tan con Lucia... ya eso me toca, especialmente por un Cubano !
mh
Documentaire très intéressant au sujet de L.Padura. Je viens de finir "El hombre que amaba a los perros" et vraiment, c'est un excellent roman historique à la construction très complexe. Un vrai livre comme on aimerait en lire plus. mhaleph
Bernardo Gutierrez
Estoy terminando de leer "El hombre que amaba a los perros". Hace muchos años que no me topaba con una novela histórica tan acabada en el panorama latinoamericano. Mejor dicho, creo que es, sin duda, una de las más maduras de este género en nuestro continente, en toda su historia literaria, y lo digo sin temor a la hipérbole. Ya comienzo a lamentar que esté cerca de terminar su lectura. Con respeto al autor, un saludo desde Colombia.
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