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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Recognition - rightly earned, richly deserved and correctly judged

I have the honour to have been one of the first in the world, and almost definitely the first in the English speaking world, to have recognised the talent of Leonardo Padura Fuentes, who has just been awarded the Cuban National Prize for literature, the highest award that an author in Cuba can win.
When I heard the news today I was very emotional - not merely because I can count Leonardo as my friend and feel happy for him, but also because the recognition, by Cuba's Book Institute and the Ministry of Culture, means so very much. Leonardo is the rarest of authors. He has the ability to know his audience so well that his prose seems to speak to each of them individually. His work is also controversial, and he has done so much to open up the space for creativity and freedom of expression for artists in Cuba that this prize is a victory of huge dimensions and will have enormous repurcusions. I recall that when I first read his work in 1991, I was amazed and said to myself then that this man would either win the national prize or be expelled for his courage and his talent. I am so happy for him (and the country) that he has won. I explain why I felt this way in my book, which, if you will excuse my self-promotion can be reviewed HERE.

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