Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

lunes, octubre 19, 2009

Miguel Angel Asturias

Miguel Angel Asturias (1899-1974)

Today's Writer's Almanac tells his life story:

It's the birthday of the man who won the 1967 Nobel Prize in literature, Miguel Ángel Asturias, born in Guatemala City (1899), one of the forerunners of Latin America modernism and the style of magical realism. He's best-known for his novels Men of Maize (1949) and El Señor Presidente (1946). He finished El Señor Presidente in 1933, while living in exile in Paris. But the book was not published for more than a decade after its completion because of censorship policies under Guatemala's dictatorship. El Señor Presidente is a fictional account of a real dictator: its model is Manuel Estrada Cabrera, who ruled Guatemala for the first two decades of the 20th century — during Asturias's childhood and young adulthood.

Miguel Ángel Asturias spent much of his life in exile, and a large part of his exile in Paris. He first went there to be a student at the Sorbonne, and there he wrote poems and stories and translated into Spanish the sacred text of the Mayan people, the Popol Vuh. He put together a collection of indigenous Guatemalan myths and legends and established a magazine in Paris called Tiempos Nuevos.

He returned to Guatemala and began a diplomatic career, during which he was posted all around Latin America. But when there was a change of government, Asturias was expelled from his homeland, and the new dictator took away his Guatemalan citizenship. In 1966, a new president was democratically elected. He welcomed Asturias back to Guatemala, reinstated his citizenship, and appointed him ambassador to France, where Asturias spent most of the rest of his life.

For a more detailed biography, there's this from the Nobel Prizes.