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“Authors looking for reader” Series: Juan Carlos Onetti, building a world

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Instituto Cervantes of London

15-19 Devereux Court

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WC2R 3JJ

United Kingdom

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In English.

La obra de Juan Carlos Onetti (Montevideo, 1909 – Madrid, 1994) es la inspiración reconocida de los principales autores del llamado “boom latinoamericano”, pero a pesar de su inmensa riqueza, no ha sido suficientemente difundida fuera del ámbito de la lengua española. El Instituto Cervantes de Londres, en colaboración con El Ojo de la Cultura Hispanoamericana y ZTR Radio, traen a debate la trayectoria y creación de este extraordinario narrador, a través de los comentarios del mayor especialista uruguayo radicado en UK, Gustavo San Román, y del traductor de su gran novela El astillero, Nick Caistor, con la coordinación del escritor costarricense Carlos Fonseca.

Sobre el escritor: La escritora uruguaya Cristina Peri Rossi, considera que Onetti es «uno de los pocos existencialistas en lengua española». Mario Vargas Llosa, quien preparó un ensayo sobre Onetti, dijo en una entrevista a la agencia AFP en mayo de 2008 que «es uno de los grandes escritores modernos, y no sólo de América Latina». «No ha obtenido el reconocimiento que merece como uno de los autores más originales y personales, que introdujo sobre todo la modernidad en el mundo de la literatura narrativa». «Su mundo es un mundo más bien pesimista, cargado de negatividad, eso hace que no llegue a un público muy vasto». Con anterioridad Vargas Llosa había comentado que Onetti «es un escritor enormemente original, coherente; su mundo es un universo de un pesimismo que supera gracias a la literatura».

Sobre los ponentes: Nick Caistor (born 15 July 1946) is a British translator and journalist, best known for his translations of Spanish and Portuguese literature. He is a past winner of the Valle-Inclán Prize for translation. He is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4, the BBC World Service, The Times Literary Supplement, and The Guardian. He lives in Norwich, and is married to fellow translator Amanda Hopkinson.

Castor have translated to English novels by Roberto Arlt, Eduardo Mendoza, Rodolfo Fogwill, José Saramago, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Paulo Coelho, César Aira and many more. Is the translator of one of the most importante novel of Onetti: The Shipyard (El astillero)

Gustavo San Román (Uruguay) es Profesor de Estudios Latinoamericanos de la Universidad de St. Andrews (Escocia, UK), con especialidad en Literatura e Identidad Nacional de Uruguay y Galicia. Actualmente, es Director de St. Andrews Cultural Identity Studies Institute. Es especialista en la obra de José Enrique Rodó, Felisberto Hernández y Onetti, sobre quien ha publicado entre otros El final de El Astillero (2003), El infierno tan temido (2001), La geografía de Santa María en El Astillero (2000), y Onetti and others (1999).

Carlos Fonseca Suárez (San José, Costa Rica 1987) is a Costa Rican-Puerto Rican writer and academic. He is the author of the novel Colonel Lágrimas and Museo animal. His work has been featured in newspapers and magazines such as The Guardian, BOMB, Art Flash and The White Review. In 2016, he was selected by the Guadalajara International Book Fair as one of the top twenty Latin American authors born in the eighties. In 2017, he was selected by the Hay Festival as one of the top thirty-nine Latin American authors under forty.

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The work of Juan Carlos Onetti is recognized as source of inspiration by main authors of the so-called "Latin American boom". The Cervantes Institute in London, in collaboration with El Ojo de la Cultura Hispanoamericana and ZTR Radio, bring to debate the trajectory and creation of this extraordinary narrator with the scholar Gustavo San Román, his translator into English, Nick Caistor, and the writer Carlos Fonseca.

About the writer: Juan Carlos Onetti, (born July 1, 1909, Montevideo, Uru.—died May 30, 1994, Madrid, Spain), Uruguayan novelist and short-story writer whose existential works chronicle the decay of modern urban life. The protagonists of his novels lead unhappy, isolated lives in an absurd and sordid world from which they can escape only through memories, fantasies, or death. Onetti studied at the university in Buenos Aires and held various jobs before he started writing. His first published work, the novella El pozo (1939; The Pit), treats the aimless life of a man lost within a city where he is unable to communicate with others. The book’s complex fusion of reality with fantasy and inner experience makes it one of the first distinctively modern Spanish American novels. In the novel Tierra de nadie (1942; No Man’s Land) Onetti again presents a nihilistic view of city life devoid of any spiritual meaning. Onetti lived in Buenos Aires from 1943 to 1955, working as a journalist. In his best-known novel, La vida breve (1950; A Brief Life), he creates the mythical city of Santa María, which is also the setting of several subsequent novels. The book’s unhappy narrator fantasizes about living as another person but always encounters the same emptiness and helplessness that drove him to escape into fantasy in the first place. This book, too, was technically innovative in its interweaving of fictions upon fictions as the main character’s personality progressively disintegrates. Onetti returned to Montevideo in 1955 and two years later was named director of the city’s municipal libraries. In his next major novel, El astillero (1961; The Shipyard), an antihero named Larsen returns to Santa María to try to revive a useless and abandoned shipyard, ending his life in futility and unheroic defeat. The book has been viewed as an ironic allegory reflecting the decay and breakdown of Uruguayan society. The novel Juntacadáveres (1964; Body Snatcher) deals with Larsen’s earlier career as a brothel keeper and his concomitant loss of innocence. Onetti’s collections of short stories include Un sueño realizado y otros cuentos (1951; “A Dream Fulfilled and Other Stories”) and El infierno tan temido (1962; “The Most Feared Hell”). His Obras completas (“Complete Works”) were published in 1970, and his Cuentos completos (“Complete Stories”) appeared in 1974..

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Instituto Cervantes of London

15-19 Devereux Court

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WC2R 3JJ

United Kingdom

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