Liberty as Heresy (Why One Writes a Novel): A Lecture by Leonardo Padura

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From left to right, CRI Director Dr. Jorge Duany, the writer Leonardo Padura, and Dr. Javier Figueroa

Before a full house at FIU's Graham Center, the award-winning Cuban writer Leonardo Padura gave a public lecture on February 12, 2014, titled "Liberty as Heresy (Why One Writes a Novel)." The Cuban Research Institute organized the event with the support of FIU's Department of Modern Languages and Latin American and Caribbean Center, and Fundación Amistad.

Padura's lecture focused on the origins of his latest novel, Herejes (Heretics, 2013), a story about freedom and the tragic incident of the SS St. Louis, a ship with 937 Jewish refugees on board which arrived in Cuba in 1939, but was never allowed to disembark. Padura's talk ranged widely from the Sephardic Jewish community in Rembrandt's Amsterdam during the 17th century to the "urban tribes" that have arisen among young Cubans in contemporary Havana. The recurring theme was how people in different places and times have exercised their right to individual freedom, thus becoming "heretics."

Dr. Javier Figueroa, a retired professor of history from the University of Puerto Rico, commented on the relationship between history and fiction in Padura's most recent work.

Leonardo Padura Fuentes is a prolific novelist, journalist, essayist, and writer of screenplays, whose works have been translated into 17 languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Greek, and Arabic. He is best known for his series of detective novels featuring Mario Conde.

To download the text upon which the lecture was based, click here.

Click here to see the video and photographs of the event.