Nominations for Premio de la Crítica 2012 announced

novelas de 2012The Premio de la Crítica a la Novela for 2012, organised by Ficción Breve Venezolana, with the support of the Sociedad de Amigos de la Cultura Urbana and Librería Noctua, announced on 22 June its 15 contenders. The jury, comprising Professors Luis Barrera Linares, Laura Febres and Valmore Muñoz Arteaga will announce the winner, and up to three finalists, in September.

The novels in the running, in alphabetical order, are:
  1. Amantes letales, Eloi Yagüe (Ediciones B)
  2. Aquella mirada tan triste, David Hernández Rodríguez (Fundación Cultural Barinas)
  3. Catalina de Miranda, Xiomary Urbáez (Planeta)
  4. Ciudad abandonada en el fondo de mi corazón, Laura Antillano (Monte Ávila)
  5. El amigo imaginario, Pedro Rángel Mora (Monte Ávila)
  6. El jardín de los pecados, José Domingo Vázquez (Narrativa Co-Bo)
  7. El requetemuerto, José Pulido (Ediciones B)
  8. La casa entre dos soles, Marisa Vannini de Gerulewicz (Narrativa Co-Bo)
  9. Las mujeres de Houdini, Sonia Chocrón (Bruguera)
  10. Liubliana, de Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles (Bruguera)
  11. Los incurables, Fedrico Vegas (Alfa)
  12. Massaua, Arnoldo Rosas (FB Libros)
  13. Misionero del nuevo mundo, Luisa María Celis (Alfa)
  14. Mujer de tiza, Daniel Alberto Linares (Monte Ávila)
  15. Nosotros todos, Manuel Acedo Sucre (Oscar Todtmann Editores)

Read the original announcement from Ficción Breve here.

Short film of Lucas Garcia París’ Nocturno

nocturno-final-printA short film adaptation of Lucas Garcia París’ story Nocturno from his 2009 collection PayBack (Edicciones Puntocero) is currently in production. The film, directed by María Almagro, tells the story of Sandoval, who struggles to distinguish his brutal drug and alcohol fuelled fantasies from the real world violence that surrounds him.

The film is crowdfunded and the makers still welcome donations, to be rewarded with DVDs, t-shirts, posters, books and eternal gratitude, depending on the amount given. They are also looking for volunteers to translate the subtitles. Find out more here.

The trailer looks amazing.

You can read the original story at Ficción Breve.

Winners of the VII Premio de Cuentos Policlinica Metropolitana para Jovenes Autores announced

Congratulations to Delia Mariana Arismendi, who won first place in the VII Premio de Cuentos Policlinica Metropolitana para Jovenes Autores for her short story ‘Barricadas’. Judges Rubi Guerra, Gisela Kozak Rovero and Fedosy Santaella unanimously chose Arismendi’s story out of 118 entries from all over Venezuela. Second place was awarded to ‘Para Elisa’ by Gabriel Payares while Maikel Ramírez Álvarez took third place with ‘Apocalipsis a la carté’. The following all received honourable mentions:

‘Esta Propatria’ by Nora Edén Mora; ‘Decembrina noche caraqueña’ by Andrea Carolina López; ‘No somos modernos’ by Ricardo Ramírez Requena; ‘También sobre el alma nieva’ by Carlos De Santis and ‘Friend’ signed with the pseudonym Caín.

The judges praised ‘Barricadas’, whose author had won second prize in last year’s contest, for constructing a deep, raw and moving story of one of those characters on the edges of society who are usually treated with a lack of understanding or as a joke, in a truthful way, without clichés. They called the story ‘richly human and full of nuances’.

You can read the full verdict on Prodavinci. The three winners will receive a cash prize of Bs 10,000 (about £1000), 5,000 and 2,500 respectively, and a compilation of all the finalists’ stories will be published.

Tributes to Francisco Massiani on his 69th birthday

Photo of Fransisco Massiani from Qué Leer.

Born on 2 April 1944, Francisco ‘Pancho’ Massiani yesterday celebrated his 69th birthday. Best known for his 1968 novel Piedra de mar, which has become a Venezuelan classic and frequently cited influence on subsequent generations of authors, Massiani published his latest work Corsarios in 2011. To mark the occasion, Qué Leer published a selection of articles, including an overview of Massiani’s career and tributes from Luis Yslas and Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez.

In ‘¿Qué importancia tiene para la literatura venezolana Francisco Massiani?’, Yslas writes:

La obra de Massiani es a la literatura venezolana lo que el rock & roll es a la música del siglo XX: un rebelde frescor de alegría y sencillez, de sensualidad y poesía, que ha dejado una estela en la que muchos autores venezolanos aún se reconocen.

Massiani’s work is to Venezuelan literature what rock and roll is to music in the 20th century: a rebellious freshness of joy and simplicity, of sensuality and poetry, in the wake of which many Venezuelan authors still recognise themselves.

As for Méndez Guédez, in ‘Massiani Nuestro’ he argues:

Cierto es que Massiani merece que se le sitúe en un lugar de honor, y no sólo en la narrativa venezolana, sino en la del idioma, pues cuando la novela en español estaba inmersa en el desenfreno por la totalidad, por los grandes relatos genésicos (muchas veces tediosos grandes relatos), él y otros dos autores: Manuel Puig y Bryce Echenique, apostaron por un refrescamiento del género, por una mirada tierna sobre la fragilidad sentimental, sobre los excesos de los discursos amorosos, sobre la visión anti-heroica de personajes que constituían su hondura desde los materiales más manidos y gastados de la cultura popular, pero eso es algo que corresponde realizar a los investigadores de ahora y del futuro.

It’s certain that Massiani deserves the pride of place, not only in Venezuelan literature, but in Spanish-language literature, as when the Spanish-language novel was completely immersed in excess, in genetic grand narratives (often tedious grand narratives), him and two other authors, Manuel Puig and Bryce Echenique, took a gamble on refreshing the genre, with a fresh view on sentimental fragility, on the excesses of amorous discourse, on the anti-heroic vision of characters whose depth comes from the hackneyed and worn materials of popular culture, but that is something for present and future researchers to achieve.

Simón Alberto Consalvi passes away in Caracas aged 85

Distinguished statesman and man of letters Simón Alberto Consalvi passed away in Caracas on 11 March 2013. Born in Santa Cruz de Mora, Mérida State, 1927, Consalvi will be remembered not only for holding many of the highest political positions in Venezuela, including Minister of Foreign Affairs (1977-79 and 1985-88) and Minister of the Interior (1988-89), but also for his huge contribution to literature in Venezuela.

Tribute to Consalvi from El Nacional.

Consalvi founded the Insituto Nacional de Cultura y Bellas Artes (INCIBA) in 1966, and in 1968 he was responsible for the creation of the state-owned publishing house Monte Ávila Editores which still publishes Venezuelan works today. A prolific writer, journalist and historian, Consalvi is author of a diverse range of titles from political-historical analysis like “Grover Cleveland y la controversia Venezuela-Gran Bretaña” (1992) to literary studies. In 1997 he was elected a member of the National Academy of History. Associate editor of El Nacional, from 2005 he was in charge of their Biblioteca Biográfica Venezolana collection, for which he wrote biographies of Rómulo Gallegos (2006), Juan Vicente Gómez (2007), José Rafael Pocaterra (2009), and Armando Reverón (2011). 

Read a tribute to Consalvi from El Nacional here, or read his El Nacional columns here.

9th Filven focuses on promotion of Venezuelan literature

The 9th Filven (Venezuelan International Literature Festival) began in Caracas on 13 March 2013 and will run until 20 March. Unlike previous festivals, this FILVEN is not dedicated to any one country, but instead to learning from the examples of many countries to develop plans for promoting literature in Venezuela and Venezuelan literature around the world. This decision comes from a desire to follow up on the 2012 Survey of Reading Behaviour, Access to Books and Reading, which studied the reading habits of Venezuelans. The festival, whose tagline this year is “Viva la lectura”, will also pay tribute to poet Gustavo Pereira (1940).

President of Cenal (National Centre for Books) Christian Valles opened Filven 2013 with a speech appealing to mourners of the late President (as AVN reports here):

“Si todos somos Chávez, tenemos que ser lectores y promover ese entrañable afecto que Chávez sentía por la lectura”.

“If we are all Chávez, we all have to be readers and promote this deep fondness that Chávez felt for reading”.

In an interview with Michelle Roche Rodriguez for El Nacional (read the full article here), Valles explained some of the aims of both this Filven and further work by Celan, as well as the key issue of the lack of Venezuelan literature in national education.

“Lo importante es que también construyamos la identidad de la literatura venezolana para promoverla. Una de nuestras preocupaciones es que las escuelas de Letras de este país no enseñan literatura venezolana. En el porcentaje total del pensa lo que se enseña de literatura venezolana es mínimo y no se compensa con el dedicado al estudio de la literatura latinoamericana, griega o a los clásicos. Las universidades deben profundizar la investigación y el estudio de nuestra literatura para que podamos formar lectores y docentes que sean capaces de promover a nuestros autores y sembrar el gusto por la lectura”.

“The important thing is that we always build an identity for Venezuelan literature in order to promote it. One of our worries is that literature departments in this country do not teach Venezuelan literature. In the overall percentage of the curriculum, what is taught of Venezuelan literature is minimal and it doesn’t make up for the percentage dedicated to Latin American literature, or Greek, or the classics. Universities should further research and study of our literature so that we can train readers teachers capable of promoting our authors and sowing the taste for reading”. 

The discussions taking place at Filven will feed in to a new State plan for the promotion of literature in Venezuela.

Víctor Alarcón Wins 2012 Oswaldo Trejo Short Story Prize

You can read the full verdict here.

Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez Q + A @ Universidad Complutense, Madrid

VERSIÓN EN CASTELLANO ABAJO.

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On Friday 18 January 2013, prolific novelist and short story writer Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez participated in a ‘Meet the authors’ event at the 1st International Colloquium of Young Researches in Hispano-American Literature held at the Universidad Complutense, Madrid, along with the Peruvians Sandro Bossío Suárez and Carlos Yushimoto del Valle. Before taking part in the question and answer session, Juan Carlos read part of a short story about the Virgin of Barajas Airport from his 2012 collection Ideogramas, plus an extract from his latest novel which is to be released in March 2013, in which a woman from the Canary Islands remembers her father’s visits to Venezuela before her birth.

When I asked Juan Carlos to what extent the Venezuelans adrift in Madrid that populate his stories are autobiographic, he replied that he prefers to think of them as “autogeographic”. He lends his characters places which are imbued with meaning for him, as well as some other tastes, like a song or a book. However, he insists, the life of a writer is quite boring, and very internalised – reading, writing, using social media – so it wouldn’t make a very interesting story! Instead, imagination is needed to write stories. The pleasure of writing is imagining oneself as others, “ser un actor que crea un papel” (being an actor who creates a role).

As for the link between academic work and writing, Juan Carlos claims to have forgotten everything he learnt during his PhD! He calls himself a retired academic, and explains that if you don’t read theory for a while, you lose it. Like the other two writers presents, he agrees that writing fiction and academic literary studies have to be kept separate. He maintains that writing has to be natural, you can’t over think it; it’s like a goalkeeper who has to follow his instincts, if he stops to think he’ll miss the ball. Quoting his friend and fellow author Rubi Guerra, he argues “Hay que ser un bruto” (you have to be ignorant) to write well.

Asked about the process of writing, Juan Carlos admits that the best moment is when you’re alone with your typewriter and you think that you’re going to write the ideal text and change the world (a sentiment shared by his characters from Claudio in Retrato de Abel con isla volcánico al fondo to Henry in Chulapos Mambo) – a dream that ends with publication. When asked if he thinks about his legacy, he maintains that, as an atheist, he is not interested in what happens after he dies, but what happens now. He wouldn’t want to be like Melville, ignored during life, but wants to be read now. He doesn’t understand the idea of writing for oneself, but wants his texts to move someone in the way that authors like Gabriel García Márquez moved him, or “le ayuden a ligar” (to help them pull), or whatever, to have an impact of some kind. The key word for him is “FELICIDAD” (happiness); everything related to literature (reading, writing, discussing books) makes him happy, and if it didn’t, he wouldn’t do it. He adds that literature “me ha servido para vivir” (has helped me to live), teaching him valuable life lessons.

 *********************

Viernes el 18 de enero de 2013, novelista y cuentista prolífico Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez participó en un ‘Encuentro con autores’ al I Coloquio de Jóvenes Investigadores de Literatura Hispanoamericana, junto con los peruanos Sandro Bossío Suárez y Carlos Yushimoto del Valle. Antes de responder a las preguntas de los investigadores, Juan Carlos leyó parte de un cuento sobre la Virgen del aeropuerto de Barajas de su última colección Ideogramas (2012) y un extracto de su nueva novela que se lanzará en marzo de 2013, en el que una canaria recuerda la visita a Venezuela que efectuó su padre antes de que ella naciera.

Cuando le pregunté a Juan Carlos hasta qué punto los venezolanos sin rumbo en Madrid que pueblan sus historias son autobiográficos, me contestó que prefiere pensarlos como “autogeogáficos”. A sus personajes, les presta lugares que son imbuidos de sentido personal, así como otros gustos, una canción, un libro. Sin embargo, insiste, la vida de un autor es muy aburrido e internalizado – leer, escribir, usar redes sociales – ¡así que no hará una historia muy interesante! Al contrario, escribir historias requiere imaginación. El placer de escribir está en imaginarse como otros, “ser un actor que crea un papel”.

En lo que concierne el vinculo entre escribir y academia, Juan Carlos afirma que ha olvidado todo lo que aprendió durante su doctorado. Se llama un académico jubilado, y explica que si no lees teoría por un rato, lo olvides. Igual que los otros dos autores presentes, cree que hay que mantener bien separados la escritura de ficción y el trabajo académico. Mantiene que la escritura deba ser natural, que no se pueda pensarlo demasiado; es como un portero que debe seguir sus instintos, si se detiene a pensar, perderá el balón. Citando a su amigo, el autor Rubi Guerra, afirma que “Hay que ser un bruto” por escribir bien.

En respecto a su proceso de escribir, Juan Carlos admite que el mejor momento es cuando estás solo con la máquina de escribir y piensas que vas a escribir el texto ideal y cambiar al mundo (un sentimiento compartido con sus personajes desde Claudio del Retrato de Abel con isla volcánico al fondo hasta Henry de Chulapos Mambo) – un sueño que muere con la publicación. Cuando le preguntaron si piensa de su legado, mantiene que, como ateo, no le interesa lo que pase después de morir, pero sí lo que pasa ahora. No le gustaría ser como Melville, ignorado durante su vida, pero quiere que se lean sus libros hoy. No entiende la idea de escribir por si mismo, quiere que sus textos conmuevan a alguien como a él le conmovieron los de autores como Gabriel García Márquez, o que “le ayuden a ligar”, o lo que sea, pero que tengan un impacto. Para él, la palabra clave es “FELICIDAD”; todo vinculado a la literatura (leer, escribir, discutir libros) le pone feliz, y si no, no lo haría. Añade que la literatura “me ha servido a vivir”, y le ha enseñado lecciones importantes.

Armando José Sequera wins microfiction prize

Translated from El Universal, read the original here.

Armando José Sequera won the “Garzón Céspedes” 2012 International Prize for Narrative Microfiction with his story Un simple ocho (A Simple Eight). It is the widest international prize for this short narrative form, one of the most prestigious in the world since 2007, to which hundreds of writers from 30 countries and three continents have presented thousands of texts.

Sequera (Caracas, 1953) is one of the most important authors of children’s books in Venezuela. He has published 57 books, 38 of which are for children or teenage readers, the majority being short story collections or novels. He has also written historical and scientific textbooks, essays and crónicas, as well as over 2000 newspaper articles.

Elsewhere, his ample literary trajectory has been honoured by numerous national and international prizes, including the Casa de las Americas Prize for Children’s Literature (Havana, Cuba, 1979). In 2006 he was nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize (like a Nobel Prize for Children’s Literature) for his body of work.

Find out more at armandojosesequera.blogspot.com

Juan Carlos González seeks crowdfunding for documentary “Apuntes para dejar de matarnos”

Writer and filmmaker Juan Carlos González is seeking crowdfunding for his new documentary Apuntes para dejar de matarnos (Notes on How to Stop Killing Ourselves). In his own words:

Notes on how to stop killing ourselves is a documentary about Venezuela, one of the most violent countries in Latin America. More than 260,000 people have been murdered in the last 20 years; in 2010 alone more than 21,000 Venezuelans were killed.

The documentary will tell the story of the violent crime problem in Venezuela today: its causes, consequences, and how the situation manifests itself in people’s daily interactions with one another. But it will also show the efforts to build peace that have been undertaken by different parts of Venezuelan society—Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the Government, and above all, the people themselves—in order to halt the escalating violence.

With contributions from a diverse array of voices and opinions, this documentary aims to be a vehicle through which more people start to believe that in Venezuela we can live, and die, without killing ourselves.

Watch the trailer to find out more about the film:

<iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/54491637?api=1&player_id=playing_video&#8221; width=”400″ height=”300″ frameborder=”0″ webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen>

They must raise the full amount of money they are looking for – 5.535 euros – by 12 January, or they will lose all of the donations pledged so far, and the film will not be able to go ahead. Please visit www.verkami.com/projects/3834-apuntes-para-dejar-de-matarnos to offer your support.

You can also support the project by:

1. Reading the blog: apunteaparadejardematarnos.com
2. Friending them on Facebook
3. Following them on Twitter: Apuntesdoc & Director

About Juan Carlos González

Born in Caracas (Venezuela) in 1980, he is a sociologist (Universidad Catolica Andres Bello. Caracas, 2003), documentary filmmaker and author. He also studied Communication (2007), Peace Journalism (2008) and Creative Documentaries (2009), all at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, where he has also taught as a visiting professor.He has worked professionally in the fields of social investigation, journalism, and multimedia productions for several NGOs in Venezuela, Spain, the Phillipines, and the Dominican Republic. As an author, his work has been recognized in various competitions in Spain and Venezuela: an honorable mention in the 6th Policlínica Metropolitana Short Story Prize for Young Writers (2012), finalist in the 3rd “Junto al Fogaril” short story prize (Huesca, 2010) and winner of the 15th “Meliano Peraile” short story prize (Madrid, 2008). As a documentary filmmaker he has worked for NGOs in six countries. His documentary Voices from Mindanao (2010) was selected for several film festivals and screenings in Spain.