22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Laura Restrepo

Portrait Laura Restrepo
© Hartwig Klappert

Laura Restrepo was born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1950. She studied Literature, Philosophy, and Political Sciences and worked as a lecturer in Literary Studies. The political journalist and activist has worked with several human rights organizations and has written works of nonfiction on the political themes of her home country, in particular the civil war that raged in Colombia for more than 40 years. In her first book »Story of a Fascination« (1986), she gives testimony of her experience as peace negotiator during the 1980’s between Colombian government and leftist guerrillas, which meant she had to live for seven years in exile in Spain and Mexico before she could return home.

Her first novel »La Isla de la pasión« (1989; Eng. »Isle of Passion«, 2005) is based on a true story. In the early 20th century, the dictator Porfirio Diaz sends a group of Mexican soldiers and their families to occupy a Pacific archipelago, where they are forgotten. Originally meant to defend the islands against French attempts at conquest, they soon have to fight hunger and natural disasters. In the meantime, World War I begins and the dictator falls. However, the years go by without the group of people on the island being aware of these developments. The story is told from the perspective of a journalist who investigates the events in the 1980s. The novel includes testimonies of eyewitnesses and historical documents. It thus becomes a mixture of adventure novel and reportage. Laura Restrepo’s style, in general, is characterized by the combination of fiction and reality. Being a journalist, she uses historical events as a model for her novels. Restrepo became known also for her novel »La novia oscura« (1999; Eng. »The Dark Bride: A Novel«, 2001). In a detailed milieu study, she tells the story of a prostitute in the red light district of a village in the jungle in Colombia that stands for the country and South America as a whole. In »Demasiados heroes« (2009; tr. »Too many Heroes«), an autobiographical novel, she deals with her personal experience during the Argentinean dictatorship of the 1970’s. Her most recent book is »Hot Sur« (2012; tr. »Hot South«), a thriller about a serial killer, a Latino woman in the United States, and the U.S. legal system.

Laura Restrepo has received several awards for her works of nonfiction and novels. She lives in Barcelona today.