Autores venezolanos en España / Antonio López Ortega

Venezuelan Authors in Spain

Towards the end of the 1980s, thanks to the efforts of Katyna Henríquez, Siruela published the complete works of José Antonio Ramos Sucre. There are no copies left of that beautiful edition, and today the great poet from Cumaná is once again unknown. A decade later, in an effort that owes a great deal to Ana Nuño, Lumen published the collected poetry of Juan Sánchez Peláez, that served for many years as the point of entry for global readers into that strange and hallucinatory voice of ours. But no trace remains on the bookshelves of that austere edition with a brown cover. More recently, few people have known that an edition of the complete short stories of José Balza, published thanks to the efforts of a top-notch researcher from Granada named Ernesto Pérez Zúñiga, was left trapped in the deposits of the publishing house Paréntesis, after it quietly went bankrupt.

But not all the news is about omissions, of course. Luckily, there is evidence of a sustained though sometimes imperceptible ascent. The publishing house Candaya, for example, which is celebrating its first decade these days, has published books by José Barroeta, Ednodio Quintero, Victoria de Stefano, Marina Gasparini and María Auxiliadora Álvarez, to mention some of the more well-known names. Just a few years ago, Paginas de Espuma welcomed the complete short stories of Arturo Uslar Pietri, edited by Gustavo Guerrero. And Guerrero, for Galaxia Gutenberg, dedicated a beautiful anthology to the poetry of Rafael Cadenas, Vicente Gerbasi, Eugenio Montejo, José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Juan Sánchez Peláez and Guillermo Sucre. The prestigious Anagrama has awarded prizes recently both to Alberto Barrera Tyszka for his novel The Sickness, and to Gustavo Guerrero for his study of the “commissioned” novel La Catira, by Camilo José Cela. Finally, the case of Boris Izaguirre, with several novels under his belt, already enters the circuit of authors who are sought and venerated by the general public.

Special mention should be given to the publishing house Pre-Textos from Valencia, which has been noting the quality of Venezuelan poetry for several years, at first with initial editions of Vicente Gerbasi and Juan Liscano, and more recently with the systematic pulication of works by Rafael Cadenas and Eugenio Montejo, who are already authors of reference for global poetry. In 2012 Pre-Textos maintained that lineage by publishing the selected work of Alejandro Oliveros along with a poetry collection by Luis Enrique Pérez Oramas. For the end of 2014 they’ve announced the collected works of Yolanda Pantin and Igor Barreto.

Additionally, the Venezuelan authors who have migrated to Spain, a type of secret diaspora that’s no longer so, not only publish their own work with Spanish houses, but are authentic promoters of their fellow countrymen. Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez and Juan Carlos Chirinos stand out as perhaps the most major voices, but right beside them are Slavko Zupcic, Armando Luigi Castañeda and the precocious Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles. All of this constitutes a map of powerful voices that continue to add meaning and to open a path for themselves by the force of their talent within a demanding and competitive publishing world. There are many others who, in the field of fiction or poetry, are just starting to make themselves known, but the phenomenon responds to a line of expansion, and not regression.

It’s worth remembering that these Venezuelan cultural landscapes in foreign lands are a symptom of our times. Venezuela has gone from being a country that welcomed immigrants to a country that expels its citizens and their talents. All the effort that can be seen in Spain, by vigorous publishing houses and writers, is the work of a chain of impulses, of enthusiasm and no small amount of faith. On that shore they are reconstructing the face that is being undone on this side. A country that is not the one that is drowning us right now will recognize what these sons of the diaspora did to keep alive the pulse of a culture that refuses to weaken amidst empty proclamations and military parades.

{ Antonio López Ortega, El Nacional, 5 June 2014 }

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