|WFR.com: Finally, if you had to pick one weird writer who is overlooked and needs to be resurrected and better appreciated, who would it be and why? |
Shepard: Alejo Carpentier, a Swiss-born Cuban journalist, ethno-musicologist, and novelist who died in 1980. Early on he lived in Paris and was connected to the Surrealists, but he grew disenchanted with surrealism and traveled to Cuba, where he wrote his best books and took part in Castro’s revolution. A direct precursor of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, he wrote in a rich baroque style and according to a philosophy he called lo real maravilloso (in essence, magical realism), It’s said that Marquez read Carpentier’s novel, Explosion in a Cathedral and immediately threw away the draft of 100 Years of Solitude on which he had been working for some years and started all over. His masterpiece, The Kingdom of This World , about the fantastic events surrounding the life of Henri Cristophe, the first black ruler of Haiti, is perhaps the seminal work of the magical realism movement. The first novel of his I read was The Lost Steps, a strange little book that I found utterly seductive. A wonderful writer celebrated in the Spanish-speaking world, but generally overlooked internationally.