23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Karla Suárez
© Hartwig Klappert

Karla Suárez

Karla Suárez was born in Cuba in 1969. She spent her childhood and youth in Havana, where she studied computer science. Her literary career began with stories which were published in various anthologies and magazines. Her story »Aniversario« (t: Anniversary) was adapted for the stage in 1996. Two stories from her first collection »Espuma« (1999; t: Foam) were adapted for Cuban television. Two years after their publication her second story collection followed, »Carroza para actores« (2001; t: The carriage for actors).

Her début novel »Silencios« (1999; t: Silences) was translated into French, Portuguese, Italian, Slovenian, and was published in German in 2001. It covers twenty years of Cuban history, beginning with the period of relative affluence in the nineteen eighties and moving up to the »Special Period« following the collapse of Communism. It is a classic coming-of-age novel, in which the narrator describes her life from childhood through youth to adulthood. The silence of the title is the child’s response to the hysteria of a large Cuban family, in which every family member has a secret and so lives a double life. The child observes and reveals the individual stories. At the end, the curious little girl has become a disillusioned young woman, the family breaks apart, and the main character is isolated in loneliness.

Suárez’s new novel, »La viajera« (2005; t: The traveller), also contains many autobiographical elements. Starting in the late nineties, it tells the story of Circe, a strong and fascinating woman, who, with her friend Lucía, flees the restrictive Cuban society to find the right place to live. Lucía soon marries an Italian and moves to Rome, while Circe continues to travel from city to city. Six years later, Circe follows Lucía to Rome. Along with her son, born in the meantime, she moves in with Lucía and her husband. Their old friendship moves into a new phase. In this lively, ironic novel that has been translated into three languages, there is a special emphasis on music, and this provides the book with a kind of soundtrack, which is why the Spanish original edition was accompanied by a CD containing the most important pieces. »It’s important for me to develop characters with their own musical theme, to give them their own identity and traits«, says the author.

She has received several scholarships and won the Cuban Premio Razón de Ser, the award of the Spanish publishing house Lengua de Trapo, the Italian award for international short stories »I colori delle Donne«, and was a finalist in the Premio de América in Guadalupe. After five years in Rome, she has now lived in Paris since 2003, where she continues to work as a freelance computer specialist, author and teacher of creative writing.

© international literature festival berlin


Ed. Letras Cubanas
Havanna, 1999

Gesichter des Schweigens
Reinbek bei Hamburg, 2001
[Ü: Sabine Giersberg]

Carroza para actores
Bogotá, 2001

La viajera
Barcelona, 2005

Übersetzer: Sabine Giersberg