Jesús Díaz

Cuba/Spain

© Anna Löscher

 

 

 

Jesús Díaz (1941–2002) was born in Havana and is regarded as one of the most important Cuban writers in exile. After having been a guest of the Berlin Artists’ Programme Jesús Díaz stayed in Europe. He worked as a film director and script writer and taught at the Film Academy in Berlin before he moved to Madrid where he lived and worked in his last years.

 

Díaz founded the magazine Encuentro, which has meantime become a significant forum for exile literature. He was also awarded a Guggenheim scholarship and received numerous awards for his literary work.

The author portrays Cuba’s society, the hopes and dreams of the generation which lived the days of the revolution and the young people who have grown up afterwards. There are those who engage in political life like the student leader Carlos in Las iniciales de la tierra (“The Initials of the Earth”), who experiences all the contradictions of revolutionary Cuba. There is the impossibility of realising the great dreams of freedom and justice cherished in the youth in Las palabras perdidas (“The lost Words”), where the young people’s passion for literature, love and pleasure is crushed and their ideals destroyed. And there are those who live in exile and return as visitors or suffer from nostalgic memories like Iris and Lidia who return to Cuba on a visit after long years of exile in La piel y la máscara (“The Skin and the Mask”). As exciting as a polit-thriller, as stimulating as an erotic novel, Díaz provides us with a vivid slice of Caribbean life and some deep insight into the current turmoil of Cuban society. In Dime algo sobre Cuba (“Tell me something about Cuba”) the dentist Stalin Martínez stays in the United States illegaly, in the end is broken by the inner turmoil produced by his love-hatred of his country. In Las cuatro fugas de Manuel (“Manuel’s four Attempts to flee”), Manuel, a highly gifted Cuban student of physics in the Soviet Union is on the run from the Cuban secret police. In an attempt to reach the Promised West, he fails three times, before finally succeeding and arriving in Germany, while the demise of the Soviet Union is in progress. His story occasionally reads like a parody of the fate of countless refugees. His wanderings stand for those of many people in flight from persecution and in search of the right to a self-determined life in dignity.

 

 

The Initials of the Earth by Jesús Díaz  is certainly the most significant novel published in Cuba for the last three decades.                           

Walter Haubrich, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

 

 

This novel [Dime algo sobre Cuba] by Jesús Díaz also thrives on the rhythm of Cuban songs and boleros. What is more, Díaz is a linguistic artist.        

Evita Bauer, Süddeutsche Zeitung

 

 

Original editions and rights sold:

 

Novels:

 

Las iniciales de la tierra, Madrid: Alfaguara 1987 ; Barcelona: Anagrama 1997, 421 p.

Cuba: Letras Cubanas 1987 France: Métailié 2002 Germany: Piper 1990, Aufbau pb Greece: Kastaniotis 1996 Mexico: El Juglar Editores 1989 Portugal: Ambar 2007Slovakia: Slovart 2008USA: Duke University Press 2006 Venezuela: Monte Ávila 1992

 

Las palabras perdidas, Barcelona: Anagrama 1992, 348 p.

France: Métailié 1995 Germany: Piper 1993, pb 2000

 

La piel y la máscara, Barcelona: Anagrama 1996, 225 p.

France: Métailié 1997 Germany: Piper 1997, pb 2000 Greece: Kastaniotis 1998

 

Dime algo sobre Cuba, Madrid: Espasa 1998, 261 p.

France: Métailié 1999, 2011 Germany: Piper 2001, 2006 Italy: Aìsara Poland: Znak 2002 Portugal: Ambar 2003 Romania: Humanitas 2007

 

Siberiana, Madrid: Espasa 2000, 228 p.

France: Gallimard 2003 Germany: Piper 2003

 

Las cuatro fugas de Manuel, Madrid: Espasa 2002, 247 p.

France: Gallimard 2006 Portugal: Ambar 2003 Romania: Humanitas 2008

 

 

Stories:

 

Los años duros, La Habana, 1966

Germany:dtv 2000

(El polvo a la mitad in: Cuentos hispanoamericanos: Cuba)