Leonardo Padura

Leonardo Padura

Leonardo Padura was born in 1955 in Havana and lives in Cuba. He has won many literary prizes, including the prestigious Princess de Asturias Prize in 2015 and the 2023 Pepe Carvalho Prize. He published THE MAN WHO LOVED DOGS, his masterpiece about the assassination of Trotsky and a number of short-story collections and literary essays, but international fame came with the Havana Quartet, all featuring Inspector Mario Conde. The first of the quartet, HAVANA RED, was his first work to be available in English and was published by Bitter Lemon Press in 2005.

Like many others of his generation, Padura had faced the question of leaving Cuba, particularly in the late 80s and early 90s, when living conditions deteriorated sharply as Russian aid evaporated. He chose to stay. And to write beautiful ironic novels in which Soviet-style socialism is condemned by implication through scenes of Havana life where even the police are savagely policed.

The crime novels feed on the noises and smells of Havana, on the ability of its inhabitants to keep joking, to make love and music, to drink rum, and to survive through petty crime such as running clandestine bars and restaurants.