Leonardo Padura honors Cuba and the Spanish language as he receives Spain’s Asturias Award

ESPA-A PREMIOS PRINCESA (10)

In the photo above, Cuban writer Leonardo Padura receives the Princess of Asturias Prize for Literature [Premio Princesa de Asturias de las Letras] from King Philip VI during the awards ceremony, held on Friday at the Campoamor Theatre in Oviedo, Spain. [Also see previous post Cuba’s Leonardo Padura Wins Spain’s Asturias Award for Literature.] As he received the award, Padura claimed his two homelands—Cuba, “made of so many mixes” and “the marvelous Spanish language”— paraphrasing Cuban intellectual icon José Martí. Here are excerpts, translated from the Spanish-language original; see original article in the link below.

The Campoamor Theater, located in [Oviedo] this city in northern Spain, hosted the awards ceremony for the Princess of Asturias Prize, considered to be the Ibero-American Nobel Prize. It was filled with about 1,600 guests, with the presence of some of the winners, like Padura, U.S. filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, and French economist Esther Duflo.

The ceremony began with a speech by the 59 year-old Leonardo Padura, author of the mystery novels centering on detective Mario Conde, in which Cuban reality is reflected. “He belongs to a generation that has great sensibility to literature, history, and the contemporary reality of Cuba,” said King Philip VI, who chaired the gala with Queen Letizia. “Therefore his land and his life are inseparable in his work, always wrapped in a melancholy and certain air that make it so attractive and close, especially for the Spaniards who carry Cuba within our hearts,” he added in reference to the writer, the first Cuban to receive this award.

“To paraphrase José Martí, I can say that I have two homelands: Cuba and my language,” said Padura, who attended the gala with a ball and a baseball bat to honor the games of his childhood in the Havana neighborhood of Mantilla.

“Everything that I am, personally and humanly, I owe to Cuba, its culture and its history, because I belong deeply to the identity of my island, to its spirit formed by many mixtures of origins and creeds, to its strong literary tradition,” he said. But also “I belong to the language I learned in the cradle, with which I communicate and write, the wonderful Spanish language,” he stated. [. . .]

For full article (in Spanish), see http://www.elnuevoherald.com/vivir-mejor/artes-letras/article41223801.html

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