22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Rodrigo Rey Rosa

Portrait Rodrigo Rey Rosa
© Cherie Nutting

Rodrigo Rey Rosa was born in Guatemala City in 1958. He attended a Jesuit school there and traveled with his parents across Mexico and Latin America. After school, he came to Europe for one year, where he mainly stayed in England, Germany and Spain. At the same time, he began to write continuously and published his first stories in magazines. He studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York until 1982, he traveled to Morocco and attended a creative writing course in Tangier with Paul Bowles, who later translated his first works into English. in 1995 Rey Rosa returned to Guatemala.
He is the author of numerous novels that are often based on Latin American and North African legends and myths. Sometimes objects and landscapes that he describes in his texts cannot be precisely located and vaguely point to a general Latin American background at most. Rey Rosa’s style is characterized by unexpected twists, soberness, and transparency. »I forbid myself to know more about the story than what happens during writing. I never sketch it out in the beginning, the writing process tells me what the novel needs.« Among his most important works are »El cojo bueno« (1996; Eng. »The Good Cripple«, 2004), »Que me maten si …« (1997; tr: Let Them Kill Me If…), »La orilla africana« (1999; Eng. »The African Shore«, 2013), and »Severina« (2011). In his most recent novel, the thriller »El país de Toó« (2019; tr: The Land of Toó), he paints a ruthless portrait of corruption and the current power struggle in Central America: The land of Toó is an isolated area with a Mayan administrative structure in a small Central American republic where peace has been fragile for well over 200 years. The greed of a mining company eventually lures the Mayan out from the reserve as a situation is created in which the rights of the indigenous people and the environment must be defended.
Rey Rosa was awarded the Premio Nacional de Literatura de Guatemala in 2004 and the Premio José Donoso in 2015, among other prizes. His works have been translated into many languages, including French, Italian, German, and Japanese. Rey Rosa himself has translated many works by Paul Bowles, Norman Lewis, Paul Léautaud, François Augiéras, and others into Spanish. He also worked as a journalist and in 2004 made the novel-based film »Lo quesoñó Sebastián« (tr: What Sebastián Dreamt), which is dedicated to Bowles; it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The author lives in Guatemala.