22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Juan Esteban Constaín

Juan Esteban Constaín was born in 1979 in Popayán, Colombia. He is a professor of international relations at the University of Rosario in Bogotá and translates books found in the school’s archives from Greek and Latin.

Constaín made his literary debut in 2004 with »Los Mártires« (tr: The Martyrs), a collection of short stories about writers. In that same year, he also wrote »Ideas políticas: historia y filosofía« (tr: Political Ideas: History and Philosophy), a brief history of western political thought. His first novel was published three years later, titled »El naufragio del Imperio« (tr: The Shipwreck of the Empire). It’s an unusual story based on real events, documentation of which the author found while doing archival research. Based on documents the author found while doing archival research, the novel is the thrilling story, filled with historical detail, of how an adventurous man from Granada joined up with a risky expedition that aimed to liberate Napoleon from his exile on St. Helena island. With warmth and precision, Constaín succeeds in breathing life into this tale of turbulent times. In 2010, the author was awarded the Espartaco prize for his second novel »¡Calcio!« He brought together in the book his passion for searching archives for events that have never appeared in the official history books, and the fascination with soccer that has been a part of his life since childhood. His protagonist is an Italian professor named Arnaldo Momigliano who affronts Oxford academic circles in the 20th century with his quest for proof that the Italians, and not the English, invented football – in the form of a Rugby-like medieval competition called Calcio – and that the first footie game in history was held in the 16th century during a battle between the Spanish Empire and the Florentine Republic. In 2014, Constaín published »El hombre que no fue Jueves« (tr: The Man Who Wasn’t Thursday). The title refers to the 1908 book »The Man Who Was Thursday« by G.K. Chesterton, the creator of fictional sleuth Father Brown. The Colombian author and journalist Oscar Collazos called Constaín’s novel an intelligent story about the mysterious process of Chesterton’s possible canonization, and said he frequently giggled while reading the book. »El hombre que no fue Jueves« became a bestseller in Colombia and received the Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana prize. With his 2015 »Gabo contesta« (tr: Gabo Answers), the author gives us an intimate look into the work of Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Márquez.

Constaín is a columnist for the »El Tiempo« newspaper and lives in Bogotá, Colombia.