Juan Manuel de Prada, acclaimed Spanish novelist, journalist and critic, IS currently in a week-long visit in Manila for the “Encuentros en la literatura” (Encounters in Literature) program, thanks to the combined effort of Instituto Cervantes and De La Salle University (DLSU).
“Encuentros” showcases a series of interactions and fora between writers of diverse cultures. It seeks to serve the local community’s cultural life through activities that contribute to the dynamic production of literary writing and the vibrant exchange of creative practices between cultures.
Today, De Prada will be featured in “Writers in Conversation” at the European Documentation Center, Henry Sy Sr. Hall, DLSU, Manila. He will engage in a conversation with a local writer on the craft of writing and the work of the imagination. The featured Filipino writer is award-winning fictionist Vicente Garcia Groyon.
De Prada will deliver a lecture on his work and issues such as the fictionalizing of History on the evening of March 19 at the Instituto Cervantes, T. M. Kalaw St., Manila.
He will also have an informal forum with writers and members of the Philippine Center of International PEN (Poets, Playwrights, Essaysists, Novelists), whose current chairman is National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, and whose founder is National Artist Francisco Sionil José, at the Solidaridad Bookshop in Ermita.
De Prada hails from Vizcaya in the Basque region of Spain. He went to study law at the University of Salamanca, but chose to become a writer and debuted as such with Coños in 1994. In 1995 he released El silencio del patinador, a collection of short stories, the last of which was the germ of what would be Las máscaras del héroe (1996), an ambitious novel that recreates the Spanish bohemia of the early 20th century.
His other novels and fiction include: El silencio del patinador (The Silence of the Skater), a collection of 12 short stories; La tempestad (The Tempest) which won the prestigious Premio Planeta in 1997; La vida invisible (The Invisible Life), a grim and complex portrayal of human guilt and redemptive struggle, it was awarded 2004 National Narrative Prize; El séptimo velo (The Seventh Veil), a dark epic novel about history and memory, which garnered the 2007 Biblioteca Breve Prize, organized by Seix Barral, and the Critics Award VI of Castile and León; and Me hallará la muerte (Death Will Find Me) in 2012, a reflection of evil in post-war Madrid, among others.
His latest novel Morir bajo tu cielo (To Die under Your Sky), published in 2014, is a historical narrative set in late nineteenth-century Philippines, recounting the last days of a Spanish regiment under siege in the town of Baler.
De Prada has also worked in Spanish newspapers and TV and radio broadcasting, which included directing and presenting the cultural debate program, Lágrimas en la lluvia” (Tears in the Rain), in 2010. Many of his articles and works were controversial pieces in defense of Catholicism. For his journalistic work, de Prada received prizes such as the Mariano de Cavia Prize (2006) and the Joaquin Romero Murube Prize (2008).
His interviews with Spanish writers such as Camilo José Cela, Antonio Buero Vallejo, Francisco Nieva, and Arturo Pérez-Reverte were compiled in the collection Penúltimas resistencias (Penultimate Resistance).
De Prada’s participation in the Encuentros program has been organized by the Instituto Cervantes de Manila in partnership with DLSU Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center (BNSCWC).