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Norberto Fuentes
Norberto Fuentes

JOURNALIST, FORMER FRIEND, CONFIDANT, ADVISOR AND POLITICAL PRISONER OF FIDEL CASTRO, TO READ FROM HIS NEW NOVEL ABOUT THE DICTATOR

NYS Writers Institute, February 18, 2010
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library
8:00 p.m. Reading | Assembly Hall, Campus Center



CALENDAR LISTING:

Norberto Fuentes, journalist, former friend and political prisoner of Fidel Castro, and author of the newly translated “faux memoir,” “The Autobiography of Fidel Castro” (English, 2009), will speak on Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will present an informal seminar in the Standish Room, Science Library on the uptown campus. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, and are free and open to the public.

 

PROFILE
Norberto Fuentes,
Cuban writer, journalist, and early friend, confidant, and advisor of Fidel Castro— and sometime political prisoner of the Castro regime— is the author of the satirical faux-memoir “The Autobiography of Fidel Castro” (2004, English translation 2009). The book has been compared favorably to the work of Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa.

“New York Times” reviewer Michiko Kakutani called the book “fascinating” and “gripping.” Ann Louise Bardach, writing in the “San Francisco Chronicle,” said, “Cubaphiles will find Fuentes’ effort to be a masterful act of ventriloquism, offering a Castro who is prideful, intuitively Machiavellian and relentlessly cynical.” Writing in “Booklist,” Jay Freeman said, “What makes this account particularly appealing is Castro’s (or Fuentes’) version of critical events and his relations with and feelings concerning historical figures. ... Of course, this isn’t history, but it is enjoyable, interesting, and probably as accurate a portrait as we are likely to get.”

Autobiography of Fidel CastroOriginally published in Spanish in 2004, the book previously earned superlative praise and a wide readership in Europe. The Spanish daily “El País” called it “A contemporary classic of Latin American literature,” and proclaimed Fuentes “The best Cuban writer in recent times.”

A member of Castro’s inner circle for thirty years, Fuentes attempted to flee the country after two high-ranking army officers were executed on fabricated charges in 1989. Caught in the act, he remained in prison until 1994 when a well-publicized hunger strike and pressure from writers abroad (including Gabriel García Márquez and William Kennedy) enabled him to begin a new life in the United States.

The “Autobiography of Fidel Castro” was translated into English by Anna Kushner, a finalist for the John Guyon Literary Nonfiction Prize in 2007.

Fuentes’ earlier fiction includes the 1968 short story collection “Condenados del Condado” (“The Condemned of Condado”), winner of the Casa de las Américas Prize. Italo Calvino praised the collection for its “cunning and anti-heroic realism, full of the ruthless irony that arises naturally when one lives in the continuous presence of death.”

Fuentes is also the author of two books about Ernest Hemingway’s romance with Fuentes’s native country, “Hemingway in Cuba” (1985) and “Ernest Hemingway: Rediscovered” (1988). In advance praise of the former, Gabriel García Márquez wrote, “Fuentes dug through the embers of Hemingway’s life at Finca Vigía and discovered traces of his heart... a man troubled by the uncertainty and brevity of life, who was able to decipher, as few have done in human history, the practical mysteries of the most solitary occupation in the world.”

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.