Leonardo Padura Fuentes – Mario Conde

I’m having difficulties finding Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s novels, at least in Madrid bookshops, therefore I’m planning to change the order in which I’m going to read the North America leg of the 2010 Reading Challenge and start first with one of Leonardo Padura’s books featuring detective Mario Conde.

I’m taking for granted that I will upgrade myself to the expert level at a later stage. By the way I took this idea from Dorte’s list, and I thank you Dorte for that since I have not read any of Padura’s novels before. I found interesting to share with you the following information from Wikipedia:

Leonardo Padura Fuentes (born 1955) is a Cuban novelist and journalist. As of 2007, he is one of Cuba’s best known writers internationally. In English and some other languages, he is often referred to by the shorter form of his name, Leonardo Padura. He has written movie scripts, two books of short stories and a series of detective novels translated into 10 languages.

Padura is best known in the English-speaking world for his quartet of detective novels featuring lieutenant Mario Conde, Las cuatro estaciones (The four seasons). These have recently started to be published in English translation. Mario Conde is a cop who would rather be a writer, and admits to feelings of “solidarity with writers, crazy people, and drunkards”. The novels are:

Pasado perfecto (“Havana Blue“, 2007), 1991
Vientos de cuaresma (“Havana Yellow“, 2008)), 1994
Máscaras (“Havana Red“, 2005), 1997
Paisaje de otoño (“Havana Black“, 2006), 1998.

These books are set respectively in winter, spring, summer and autumn (Vientos de cuaresma literally means “Winds of Lent“, and Paisaje de otoño, Autumn landscape). Paisaje de otoño won the 1998 Premio Hammett of the Asociación Internacional de Escritores Policiacos (International Association of Crime Writers); this prize should not be confused with the similarly named Hammett Prize given by the North American branch of the organization, which is restricted to U.S. and Canadian authors.

Padura has published two subsequent books featuring Conde, the novella Adiós Hemingway (Padura’s first book to be translated into English, in 2005), and a recent novel La neblina del ayer (“Havana Fever”, 2009), 2002-2003.

The Havana-Cultura website comments on the similarities and differences between Padura and Hemingway and how they might explain his decision to feature the expatriate American in Adiós Hemingway.

Padura’s latest novel El hombre que amaba a los perros (The Man Who Loved Dogs) deals with the murder of Leon Trotsky and the man who assassinated him, Ramon Mercader. At almost 600 pages in length it is his most accomplished work and the result of more than five years of meticulous historical research. The novel, published in September 2009, attracted a lot of publicity mainly because of its political theme.

More information in
Tusquets Editores (In Spanish)
Mis detectives favoritos (In Spanish)

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