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Leonardo Padura

Princess of Asturias Award for Literature 2015

Leonardo de la Caridad Padura Fuentes, aka Leonardo Padura (Havana, Cuba, 9th October 1955), is a Cuban novelist and journalist, known especially for his series of crime novels featuring the detective Mario Conde. Since 2011, he holds both Cuban and Spanish citizenship, the latter being granted to him by the Spanish Government via certificate of naturalization. He studied Latin American literature at the University of Havana and began his career in journalism in 1980 in the literary magazine El Caimán Barbudo and in the Juventud Rebelde newspaper.

After working for several years as a journalist, which helped him gain “the experience and life lessons he lacked”, as he has put it, he began the series of novels featuring the detective Mario Conde with Havana Blue (1991). In his crime novels, Padura makes a criticism of Cuban society, because, as he has said, “I learned from Hammett, Chandler, Vázquez Montalbán and Sciascia that it is possible [to write] a detective story which has a real feel for the pulse of the country, which denounces or touches on concrete, not just imaginary realities.” Mario Conde is a cop “laden with melancholy”, a disgruntled drinker with a messed-up life who would have liked to have been a writer. This series of novels by Padura has enjoyed major international success and has been translated into several languages, besides winning important literary awards. Mario Conde is “the way that I have found to interpret and reflect Cuban reality”, asserts Padura. In addition to the aforementioned book Havana Blue, to date the series comprises Havana Gold (1992), Havana Red (1995), Havana Black (1998), Adios, Hemingway (2001), Havana Fever (2003) and Herejes (2013). He achieved undisputed international success with his novel The Man Who Loved Dogs (2009), based on the life of León Trotsky’s murderer, Ramón Mercader. He has also written film scripts, short stories and essays, in addition to editions of his interviews and news articles.

Among other awards, Padura has received the Café Gijón Prize (1995), the Hammett Prize on two occasions at Gijón’s Semana Negra or Noir Week (1998 and 2006), the Premio de las Islas (2000), the Prix des Amériques insulaires et de la Guyane, the Prize for the Best Crime Novel translated in Germany and in Austria (2004), the Raymond Chandler Prize (2009) and the Francesco Gelmi di Caporiacco Prize (2010) for The Man Who Loved Dogs. This book also earned him the Prix Initiales (2011), the Critics Award from the Cuban Institute of Books (2011) and the Carbet del Caribe Award (2011). Holder of the 2012 National Literature Prize of Cuba and 2014 City of Zaragoza International Prize for Historical Novels, he was awarded France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2013.

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