Padura, Leonardo 1955- (Leonardo Padura Fuentes)
Padura, Leonardo 1955- (Leonardo Padura Fuentes)
Born 1955, in Havana, Cuba. Education: Graduated from the University of Havana.
Writer. Former investigative journalist.
Three-time winner of the Premio Hammett, International Association of Crime Writers.
"FOUR SEASONS" SERIES
Pasado perfecto, Dirección de Publicaciones (Guadalajara, Mexico), 1991, translation by Peter Bush published as Havana Blue, Bitter Lemon Press (London, England), 2007.
Vientos de cuaresma, Ediciones Unión (Havana, Cuba), 1994, published as Havana Yellow, Bitter Lemon Press (London, England), 2008.
Máscaras, Tusquets Editores (Barcelona, Spain), 1997, translation by Peter Bush published as Havana Red, Bitter Lemon Press (London, England), 2005.
Paisaje de otoño, Tusquets Editores (Barcelona, Spain), 1998, translation by Peter Bush published as Havana Black, Bitter Lemon Press (London, England), 2006.
Lo real maravilloso, creación y realidad, Editorial Letras Cubanas (Havana, Cuba), 1989.
El viaje más largo, Ediciones Unión (Havana, Cuba), 1994.
Un camino de medio siglo: Carpentier y la narrativa de lo real maravilloso, Editorial Letras Cubanas (Havana, Cuba), 1994.
Los rostros de la salsa, Ediciones Unión (Havana, Cuba), 1997, translation by Stephen J. Clark published as Faces of Salsa: A Spoken History of the Music, Smithsonian Books (Washington, DC), 2003.
La puerta de Alcalá y otras cacerías, Olalla Ediciones (Madrid, Spain), 1998.
Modernidad, posmodernidad y novela policial, Ediciones Unión (Havana, Cuba), 2000.
Adiós Hemingway & La cola de la serpiente: Novela, Ediciones Unión (Havana, Cuba), 2001, translation by John King published as Adiós Hemingway, Canongate (New York, NY), 2005.
(With John M. Kirk) Culture and the Cuban Revolution: Conversations in Havana, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 2001.
Variaciones en negro: Relatos policiales iberoamericanos, Editorial Arte y Literatura (Havana, Cuba), 2001.
La novela de mi vida, Tusquets Editores (Barcelona, Spain), 2002.
José María Heredia: La patria y la vida, Ediciones Unión (Havana, Cuba), 2003.
La neblina del ayer (title means "The Fog of Yesterday"), Tusquets Editores (Barcelona, Spain), 2005.
One of Cuba's most celebrated novelists, Leonardo Padura began his career as an investigative journalist, eventually trying his hand at essay writing and screenwriting. He was drawn to the idea of writing a novel around a central detective character who would provide the reader with a unique social perspective of Cuban culture. In an interview with Stephen Wilkinson of Shots, Padura shared his objective at the start of the novel-writing process: "When I began to write the first novel in the series I did not propose to change anything. I simply had the intention to write a novel…. In the end it would have the characteristic of being a detective novel that would not resemble any of the Cuban detective novels that had been written up to that point. This was my intention. I wanted to write about a Cuban reality, with an incisive vision of this reality, from within Cuban reality. I have always understood literature as having a social function."
Padura's first novel, 1991's Pasado perfecto, translated as Havana Blue, introduces the character of Mario Conde, a Cuban police officer who has grown weary of his profession and harbors a secret desire to become a full-time writer. The success of the novel led Padura to turn the story into a series, a quartet of novels he called the "Four Seasons." The series includes Vientos de cuaresma, Máscaras, and Paisaje de otoño. The books were translated into English under the titles Havana Blue, Havana Yellow, Havana Red, and Havana Black, and were later followed by two additional Conde titles. Over the course of the series, Conde quits the police force to become a writer but is ultimately lured back to fighting crime as a private detective.
Padura earned critical acclaim not only for his compelling protagonist but also for being among the first in the Cuban detective genre to break free of literary and cultural stereotypes in presenting communist Cuba realistically. Guardian contributor Duncan Campell remarked: "What Padura has been able to accomplish in his books is to paint a nuanced picture of Cuba today, at a time when Castro's ill health has put the country under the spotlight." In a review for the Tangled Web, Bob Cornwell wrote: "Padura gives us a fascinating picture of the sexual, political and religious contradictions that exist within Cuba today." In a review for the New Internationalist, Vanessa Baird remarked: "Cuban crime maestro Leonardo Padura offers insights into daily life on the island that you would be hard pushed to find elsewhere." Describing Adiós Hemingway, a Conde novella, Bookslut reviewer Colleen Mondor maintained that it "is a book that only a Cuban author could have written because it is about a time and place, and certainly a man, who belonged very much to that country. It's a little beauty of a novel and was a distinct pleasure to read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
New Internationalist, August, 2006, Vanessa Baird, review of Havana Black, p. 27.
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (July, 2005), Colleen Mondor, review of Adiós Hemingway.
Guardian Unlimited,http://www.guardian.co.uk/ (September 12, 2006), Duncan Campbell, "The Hammett of Havana."
Shots,http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ (March 6, 2007), Stephen Wilkinson, author interview.
Tangled Web,http://www.twbooks.co.uk/ (June, 2005), Bob Cornwell, review of Havana Red.