Leonardo Padura is the most widely known author working in Cuba today. He has written novels, movie scripts, books of short stories, and a collection of essays. His series of crime novels featuring detective Mario Conde has been translated into more than twenty languages and is the basis for Netflix’s 2016 miniseries, Four Seasons in Havana.
Padura’s fiction engages “the biggest problems of society: corruption, repression, hypocrisy, ideological erosion, opportunism, poverty,” he says in a profile in the New Yorker. He considers his novels “urban literature, always set in the cities, in the streets… Havana is a character. It’s the third man in my novels,” he tells the United Kingdom’s Independent.
In 2012, Padura was awarded the Premio Nacional de Literatura, the most important literary award in Cuba. He has also received Spain’s Premio Principe de Asturias de las Letras and has been named a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. His novel The Man Who Loved Dogs, which tells the story of the assassination of exiled Communist Leon Trotsky, was a finalist for Book of the Year in Spain.
In the 1980s and 90s, Padura worked as a journalist, eventually writing a popular column and editing Cuba’s leading cultural magazine, La Gaceta de Cuba. His political essays serve as teaching aides for university courses around the world.
Influenced as a writer by Ernest Hemingway, Padura tells the Independent, “he was one of the authors who gave me a consciousness of both the life and work of the writer.” Havana Cultura says of the two writers: “[They] have some things in common: the beard, the occasional guayabera shirt, the keen interest in sports. 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.”
Padura was born in Havana in 1955 and earned a degree in Latin American literature at the University of Havana. He lives with his wife, the journalist Lucía López Coll, in the Havana barrio where he grew up.
The Man Who Loved Dogs (2014)
Adios Hemingway (2006)
Havana Red (2005)
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Video: Padura discusses his work for Havana Cultura.