Since its first edition in 2004, the nuestra palabra Short Story Competition has become the most important annual event in the nascent realm of Hispanic Canadian literature. The contest has recognized the talents of both new and established Hispanic Canadian writers of short fiction, and contributed to the creation of a space in Canada for literature for the Spanish speakers, the fastest growing minority language community in the country.
Closing our series of English translations of the first prize winners in the first ten years of the nuestra palabra short story competition is another story by Francisco García González, the Cuban-born author, screenwriter and journalist based in the Montreal suburb of Brossard, Quebec, who is the only writer to have won the nuestra palabra contest twice (he also won in 2011, with “Remember Clifford“). The story “El odio también envejece” (translated here by David Morsillo, under the title “Hate Also Ages You”), won first prize in the tenth edition of the competition, in 2013.
Delma Gil Wilson, the winner of the 2012 edition of the nuestra palabra short story competition, was born in Álamos, Mexico in 1980. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Literatures at Universidad de Sonora en México, and a Master’s in Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of Alberta. She has written for newspapers and magazines in both Mexico and Canada, including Cambio Sonora, Correo Canadiense, El Hispano and The Apostles Review. She has worked as both a translator and proofreader and currently teaches Spanish at the University of Alberta.
Néstor E. Rodríguez was born in the Dominican Republic in 1971. He is the author of the books Escrituras de desencuentro en la República Dominicana (México: Siglo XXI, 2005), which earned him Mexico’s Premio al Pensamiento Caribeño award, and Crítica para tiempos de poco fervor (Santo Domingo: Banco Central de la República Dominicana, 2009), as well as the poem collections Animal pedestre (San José: Terranova, 2004) and El desasido (Mexico City: El billar de Lucrecia, 2009). He is professor of literature at the University of Toronto. His poem “Abandonar la casa”, translated into English by David Morsillo, is published here with the author’s permission.
Francisco García González, first prize winner of the 2011 nuestra palabra short story competition, is a writer, editor, and screenwriter born in Havana in 1965 and currently living in Montreal. His short story collections include Juegos permitidos [Games Allowed] (1994), Color local [Local Colour] (1999), and ¡Qué quieren las mujeres? [What Do Women Want?] (2003). He has also published the historical essay, Presidio Modelo, temas escondidos [Model Prison, Hidden Agendas] in 2002. His stories have appeared in anthologies in Cuba, Spain and Canada. He won Cuba’s Hemingway Short Story Prize in 1999, and has served as editor of the cultural journal Habáname. His articles have appeared in periodicals in Cuba, Mexico, Chile and the United States.
The following is an excerpt from my short story “Culture”, originally published in 2008 in the Canadian literary journal Other Voices. The story has recently been re-published in an excellent Spanish translation by award-winning Mexican-Canadian author and translator Martha Bátiz, for the new anthology Desde el norte: narrativa canadiense contemporánea, published by Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico. Many thanks to Martha for giving this story new life in the Spanish language.
The first-prize winner of the nuestra palabra short story competition in 2010, Ihosvany Hernández González, was born in Havana in 1974 and completed studies in history at Universidad de La Habana. Since 2004 he has lived in Montreal and is now a Canadian citizen. In addition to writing short stories he is an award-winning poet, author of the collection Verdades que el tiempo ignora (Linden Lane Press, 2011) and co-author of the anthology of Cuban poetry Bojeo a la isla infinita (Betania, 2013). He maintains the blog La parada de los mangos and his next poetry collection, El equilibrio de las cosas, will be published later this year by Publicaciones Entre Lineas.
The orchid had been a gift from Mrs. Zarowsky, to welcome them to their new home. They didn’t know much about plants, but they were grateful for the gift, which they placed beside the front door of the little two-bedroom apartment that the kindly old Ukrainian woman had rented to them. They’d found the apartment in their first few days in Toronto, and the moment they met Mrs. Zarowsky, who had welcomed them so warmly, and the moment they saw the bright, cozy apartment, they knew it was just the place for them, and they signed the lease at once.
Pablo Salinas, first prize winner in the nuestra palabra Short Story Competition in 2009, was born in Lima, Peru in 1973. He has published a diverse range of stories and poems in print and online journals, as well as in the anthologies Retrato de una nube (2008, published in English as Cloudburst by University of Ottawa Press in 2013), Las imposturas de Eros (2009) and Voces con vida (2012). His short stories “El camino de regreso” and “Padre José”, which received honorable mentions in the nuestra palabra contest in 2008, appear in the collection of nuestra palabra award winners titled Cuentos de nuestra palabra en Canadá: Primera hornada (2009). He completed a doctorate in Hispanic Studies at the University of Ottawa and is currently visiting professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio.
Humberto Benjamín Clavería
Manuel Urrutia couldn’t get to sleep. Every time he closed his eyes he thought of the damaged skull with a gold tooth that he had hidden away inside his backpack. He seemed to sense the dead thing emerging from the bag, covered in soft tissue, crowned with a mop of fresh flowing hair. His skin stood on end merely imagining that the bodiless head might suddenly come to life, approach him and begin to talk to him, to tell him who he was, to share his past with him. Or perhaps he would weep or laugh. And the gold tooth would shine in the light of his bedside lamp.