|Guillermo Cabrera Infante|
Poster by T,A.
Guillermo Cabrera Infante diesAssociated Press
Tuesday 22 February 2005 16.26 GMT
Guillermo Cabrera Infante, outspoken critic of Cuban leader Fidel Castro and one of the most original voices in modern Spanish-language literature, has died in London. He was 75.
A spokeswoman for his literary agent, Balcells, announced this morning that the writer died in hospital yesterday from septicaemia. A London resident since 1966, Cabrera had suffered a series of illnesses in recent years including diabetes and heart and kidney problems. The spokeswoman confirmed that Cabrera's wife, Miriam, was by his side when he died.
Lauded for his experimental use of language in novels, essays and criticism, Cabrera won the 1997 Miguel de Cervantes prize for literature, the most prestigious literary award in the Spanish-speaking world. The Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, who sat on the jury that awarded the prize, praised Cabrera's vision, saying that "perhaps his greatest originality was to turn cinema criticism into a new literary genre."
Cabrera was born in 1929 in Gibara, Cuba, to parents who were founding members of the Cuban communist party. After the Castro-led revolution and overthrow of President Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Cabrera became editor of Revolución, the literary supplement of the new regime's mouthpiece.
However, he fell out of favour after opposing the government's decision to ban a documentary on Havana nightlife made by his brother. Castro publicly rebuked him in a trial and he was henceforth forbidden to publish; instead, he went on to accept the position of Cuba's cultural attaché in Brussels in 1962. After returning to Cuba for his mother's funeral in 1965, he accepted that he could no longer continue to live in his home country. After a brief period in Madrid he settled in London and took on British citizenship, saying in 1997 that "I have not been back (to Cuba) since I left in 1965, and will not until Fidel Castro leaves power".
The themes of exile and alienation toward the Castro regime resonated through much of his work; he published a collection of political writings harshly critical of the Castro regime under the title Mea Cuba (Cuba is Pissing) in 1991. But it is for his most famous novel, 1967's Tres Tristes Tigres (Three Trapped Tigers), an animated account of nightlife in Havana cabarets before Castro came to power, that he will be remembered. "Its success surprised me," he admitted in an interview following his acceptance of the Cervantes prize. "It is half-written in Cuban slang - most readers won't understand it".
Other titles include Twentieth Century Job, a collection of film reviews published in 1963 and Cabrera's personal favourite; the English non-fiction work, Holy Smoke; and the 1997 essay Cinema or Sardine. Novels include A View of Dawn in the Tropics (1965) and Infante's Inferno (1979). He translated James Joyce's Dubliners into Spanish in 1972 and wrote screenplays, including the adaptation of Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano.
Cabrera had two daughters from his first wife, from whom he divorced in 1961. He remarried later that year.