“Que me reconozcan me hace sentir vivo” / María Gabriela Méndez

“Being Recognized Makes Me Feel Alive”
Renato Rodríguez, Premio Nacional de Literatura

He was born on July 3rd, reason enough for him to get the idea into his head that the coincidence of sharing a birthday with Franz Kafka was the unequivocal sign that he was the reincarnation of the Czech writer: “I was often penetrated by his style, wanting to be like him,” says Rodríguez, who has received the Premio Nacional de Literatura. In Al sur del Equanil (1963), his first novel, one of the characters talks about the conflict with his father.

Although at the time of its publication his work – El bonche (1976) and La noche escuece (1985) – did
n’t have the best reception among critics, today his prose is considered one of the most prodigious. He still remembers clearly the critiques of his first book, as he laughs: “A friend wrote an article that said: “If it was well written, the dirty words in it would shine like brutal images.” ”

He also recalls what Julio Miranda wrote:
“Too little, Renato Rodríguez, and too late,” he repeats with a harsh tone that turns into a laugh.

But those comments about his novel did
n’t bother him: “I had the sensation of having done what I needed to do. Criticism is sometimes fickle and it often measures itself by means of established parameters. Criticism evolves.”

But if a National Prize was far from his aspirations nowadays, it was even further away back then. “I think I’ve already accomplished my cycle. And now that they gave me that prize, it’s like a colophon. Not because one has to aspire to that in life. No, that’s banal. I mean that a group of people recognize one’s existence. That’s like coming into life, like feeling alive.”

He still doesn
’t know who postulated him, but when an acquaintance announced the news to him, he laughed about his hunch coming true: “I had had a stupid fall and I thought: “Some compensation will come my way. I think they’re gonna give me the Premio Nacional de Literatura.” ”

It could seem strange that a nomad who traveled the world and lived half his life outside these borders would end up taking refuge in the mountains of Aragua state, in Tasajera. but he didn’t choose that place: “That simply happened. ”

{ María Gabriela Méndez, El Universal, 9 September 2006 }

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