Life, The Dead / Luis Felipe Rojas

Photo/Ernesto Santana, by Luis Felipe Rojas

The night of December 3 was full of light and friendship. Yoani Sanchez invited a group of friends of Ernesto Santana to her house to grab from his hands a copy of his novel The Carnival and the Dead, the most recent winner of the Premio de Novelas de Gaveta “Franz Kafka”.

It’s an award for perseverance, an award against censorship, and authors who for various reasons do not receive Cuban’s permission to publish in the land of their birth, have the opportunity each year to send their works to this type of act of generosity and solidarity and see their works published with the highest quality, as you can see from the pictures that accompany this post.

Of course, I have not read the novel and I can not talk about its literary quality, I spent only a couple of hours without being able to put it down and that is already something. Marginality, the impossibility of personal fulfillment, including lack of interest in what many try to call happiness are, in this short novel, the keys to this very long story. Ernesto Santana’s characters are ghosts beaten by the war in Angola and the disruption of national life, so it will be a few hours of distress-pleasure well worth retracing in the dark.

I met Ernesto at a book fair in Pinar del Rio, back in 2005 and some months later he gave me a bunch of poems for the first issue of magazine Bifronte. Thus, we published for the first time in that magazine poetry of a narrator, a kind of Violon d’Ingres, or pastime.

For me, who has been away from the country’s official literary life for years, it was a gratifying moment to know that there is a group of men and women who think of the country, who are rebuilding it piece by piece and putting it in a safe place through their novels and poems. Five years later I run into Ernesto Santana, and, for the first time, others: Amel Hechavarría, Daniel Díaz Mantilla, Ernesto Morales, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo and several others, a sign that Cuba pulsates in its writers, and how.

December 10 2010