Díaz, Jesús 1942(?)–2002

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Díaz, Jesús 1942(?)–2002

(Jesús Díaz Rodríguez)


Born c. 1942, in Cuba; died May 2, 2002, in Madrid, Spain; defected to Europe in 1991; children: Claudia and Pablo Díaz, and Manuel Desdín.


Writer, publisher, director; Lejanía (film; title means Distance), director, 1985; Encuentro magazine (means Encounter), founder, 1996.


De la patria y el exilio, Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (Havana, Cuba), 1979.

Gritar el amor, Editorial Letras Cubanas (Havana, Cuba), 1980.

Los Años duros, Editorial Letras Cubanas (Havana, Cuba), 1981.

Clandestinos, Distribuidora Internacional de Películas ICAIC [Cuba], 1987.

Las iniciales de la tierra, Ediciones Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 1987, Monte Avila Editores (Caracas, Venezuela), 1992, translated by Kathleen Ross as The Initials of the Earth, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 2006.

Las palabras perdidas, Ediciones Destino (Barcelona, Spain), 1992.

(With Allen Barra and Joe Glickman) That's Not the Way It Was: (Almost) Everything They Told You about Sports Is Wrong, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.

La piel y la máscara, Editorial Anagrama (Barcelona, Spain), 1996.

Dime algo sobre cuba, Espasa (Madrid, Spain), 1998.

Siberiana, Espasa (Madrid, Spain), 2000.

Las cuatro fugas de manuel, Espasa (Madrid, Spain), 2002.


Jesús Díaz was born in Cuba, circa 1942, but defected to Europe in 1991, eventually settling in Spain. He worked as a writer and a filmmaker, suffering under the Cuban regime for his revolutionary ideas and behavior prior to his defection. He was also known for writing that pushed the borders of propriety and what was considered acceptable by the government. Once out of Cuba, he founded the magazine Encuentro, which means ‘Encounter,’ in an attempt to provide a window into the world of Cuban culture for the political activists forced to flee their home country or for any ex-patriots who simply chose to leave the country. In an obituary for the Miami Herald Online, Spanish writer Carlos Alberto Montaner was quoted as saying of Díaz: ‘Along with his contributions as a novelist and filmmaker, the magazine he founded established a bridge between intellectuals in Cuba and intellectuals in exile, and because of the high-caliber of people who dared to contribute, Jesús earned the ire of the Cuban government.’ It was Díaz's novel La piel y la máscara that prompted his flight from Cuba, his retreat motivated by the ire of the minister of culture. The book tells the story of a film being shot in Cuba, where it becomes painfully obvious over the course of the story that the project has far too little funding to be a viable production, and that the government is responsible for the overall situation. William L. Siemens, in a review for World Literature Today, praised the book, commenting: ‘Far from being a simple vehicle for political commentary, the work stands on its own."

In The Initials of the Earth, Díaz tells the story of parallel revolutions in Havana and in Spain as they affect Carlos Perez Cifredo, who grows up during this period of time. He has distinct, if shy, ideas as a young man, but as he grows older finds himself torn by his dislike for communism and his social idealism. The revolution changes him, giving him opportunities to shine and forcing him to put more childish ideas to the side if he expects to succeed. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly dubbed the book ‘an almost impossibly complex and intimate rendering of the revolution, for which a helpful chronology is included."

Jesús Díaz died in his sleep on May 2, 2002, at his home in Madrid, Spain.



Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, March, 2007, Y. Fuentes, review of The Initials of the Earth, p. 1175.

Latin American Literary Review, January 1, 1993, ‘Jesus Diaz: Politics of Self-Narration in Revolutionary Cuba,’ p. 65.

Publishers Weekly, August 28, 2006, review of The Initials of the Earth, p. 28.

World Literature Today, spring, 1994, William L. Siemens, review of Las palabras perdidas.



Miami Herald, May 3, 2002, Fabiola Santiago, ‘Jesús Díaz, Cuban Writer, Filmmaker."

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