Ignacio Padilla was born in Mexico City in 1968. He studied media and literary studies in Mexico City, South Africa and Edinburgh and then completed a doctorate on Miguel de Cervantes in Salamanca in 1998. In the mid-nineties he worked as editorial director of the Mexican edition of »Playboy« magazine and wrote regular columns for the cultural supplement »Sábado«. He was cultural attaché at the Mexican Embassy in London from 2001 to 2003. Earlier this year Mexican President Felipe Calderón appointed him director of the José Vasconcelos library in Mexico City.
Padilla began his literary career writing short stories, the first of which were published in a volume entitled »Subterráneos« (1989; t: Subterranea), which received the Premio Alfonso Reyes. His first novel, »Imposibilidad de los cuervos« (1994; t: The impossibility of the crows), was awarded the Premio Juan Rulfo. In 1996 Padilla was among those who signed the »Manifesto Crack«, proclaiming the regeneration of Latin American literature and a break with Magical Realism. This manifesto received a mixed critical reception and led to the five young writers who had written it being considered as one »generation«, and to their works – as different as they were – always being viewed in this context.
Padilla’s narrative work is marked by clear, unadorned language as well as by elaborately constructed stories in which contemporary history and fiction are often closely interwoven, something that also mirrors his literary predilection for Borges. His interest in Central European history and literature found its way into the novel »Amphitryon« (2000; Eng. »Shadow without a Name«, 2003), which is set in Germany and Austria between the world wars. The author tells the story of two men who trade their names and identities while playing chess. Years later one of their sons decides to track down his father’s true identity as soldier and Nazi hero. Padilla’s novel »Espiral de artillería« (2003; t: Artillery spiral) tells of a doctor who becomes an informer for the Communist regime. Most recently Padilla published the novel »La Gruta del Toscano« (2006; t: The Tuscan’s grotto), described by critics as an adventure novel with echoes of Joseph Conrad and Dante. The plot is set in the Himalayas, where a sherpa discovers the entrance to a cave which proves to be an entrance to Dante’s Inferno.
Padilla is also a children’s book author and writes essays, including the recent »El diablo y Cervantes« (2005; t: The devil and Cervantes). The variety of his literary output and the number of publications and prizes to his name prove him to be among the most important contemporary Mexican writers. His work has been translated into over fifteen languages. He lives in Mexico City.
© internationales literaturfestival berlin