Havana nights

Cuban author and novelist Leonardo Padura will be talking about his books with author Mark Kurlansky, at Nuyorican Poets Cafe in Manhattan on April 20.
Daniel Mordzinski

Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura will be talking about his books at the PEN World Voices Festival at Nuyorican Poets Cafe on April 20. The famous writer will be joined by author Mark Kurlansky, who recently wrote a book about the city of Havana in literature. The pair will discuss the city, its history, and Padura’s representation of it in his novels, according to Padura.

“We will talk about the Cuban reality from the perspective of a Cuban writer and a North American writer, and how in our books we explore Cuban society, reality, and the changes to Cuba and Cuban life,” said Padura.

Born and raised in Havana, Padura became famous in the English-speaking world, for his detective books known as the Havana Quartet — a four-novel series that follows Lieutenant Mario Conde. The popular novels explore Cuba’s capital city, and major political and social transformations it saw during critical times.

The city is not only his hometown and choice of setting for his novels, it is the location where he finds a lot of inspiration as a writer.

“For me, Havana is a very important place, and its not only my place — it’s my literary place,” he said. “I think as a novelist especially, you don’t belong to a country, you belong more to a city, and all my books happen in Havana for this reason.”

Padura and Kurlansky will also examine their books “La transparencia del tiempo” and “Havana: A Subtropical Delirium,” respectively, and examine their portrayals of Havana.

He says although he does not consider his books to be a crash course lesson of the city, the picture he has painted for his hometown provides a lot of perspective. And even other natives would agree.

“I don’t always know the absolute truth, but I try to capture Cuban society through my books the best way possible,” said Padura. “This point of view is not only mine but that of many Cuban people. I live in Havana and I always try to find a way to think of people, their ideas and frustrations, I find ways to talk the person and their the language in my books.”

“Havana with Leonardo Padura” at Nuyorican Poets Cafe [236 E. Third St. between avenues B and C in Lower East Side, (212) 780-9386, www.nuyorican.org]. April 20 at 7 pm. $15 ($12 advance).

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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