Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Leonardo Padura

Leonardo Padura is the author of short-story collections and literary essays yet best known for his Havana Quartet of novels featuring Inspector Mario Conde.

From his Q & A with PBS:

You are credited with having changed an entire genre of literature almost by yourself. How do you feel about this?

Actually, in art, no one person really changes anything entirely: there are always innovations and renewals (words that in Spanish seem the same but do not mean the same). It is like an accumulation of apprenticeships made possible from previous works and dissatisfactions with the contemporary works. In my case, my apprenticeship began with the new crime novels being written by such authors as Vazquez Montalban in Spain, McBain in the United States and Rubem Fonseca in Brazil. That literature, more realistic and more artistic, gave me the clue that I needed to do what I wanted: to write Cuban crime fiction that did not look like the crime novels being written in Cuba in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

The prize for having written this new Cuban crime novel is, however, lonely for I do not consider myself a crime fiction writer but simply a writer, and since my interests are every day farther from the crime novel, I am alone in the experiment I developed. But then, I also have the prize for having found so many readers in and outside of Cuba, who tell me that they understand better what is happening in the island.

On the other hand, I do not feel “an inventor” of anything, and every time I start to write a novel, I realize that I do not know anything and that for each book that I write I must learn once again how to write such a book... the important thing is to write well and above all that the writing serve to present more than a literary mystery.

How did you come up with the idea of Havana Quartet?

The idea of writing a quartet or tetralogy came to me while...[read on]
Read about Leonardo Padura's top ten Cuban novels.

--Marshal Zeringue