Jorge Luis Arzola (Foto: privat)
Jorge Luis Arzola was born in Jatibonico, a small Cuban town, in 1966. When he was five, his family moved to a village in the center of the island, which Fidel Castro had ordered built in the early 1960s. He graduated from the local elementary school. At the age of thirteen he entered one of the so-called village schools promoted by the revolution. The strict, almost military discipline there was unbearable—he rebelled against it and even dropped out before completing secondary school. This led to family tensions, particularly with his father, who was a member of the Communist Party. In the second half of the 80s, Cuba experienced a certain easing of ideological pressure. Jorge Arzola attended meetings of young writers and national writers’ workshops, which generated a group of modern Cuban narrators, called Los Novísimos. Arzola spent years in a small town in the interior of the island, always under the watchful eye of the Cuban Interior Ministry, haunted for expressing himself in forbidden ways. In the early 1990s, he graduated from high school and studied English. As a representative of the Novísimos, he broke with the literary traditions of the 1970s. In Cuba he published two volumes of stories, El pájaro sin cabeza (1991) and Prisionero en el Circulo del Horizonte (1994). His articles have been published in several national and international anthologies, newspapers and magazines. In 2000, he was honored with the Ibero-American Alejo Carpentier Prize for his collection of short stories, La banda infinita, published in Cuba. Although he began his first novel, Todos los Buitres, El Tigre, in Cuba, he finished it in Germany, to where he moved with his family in August 2002. The novel was released in Spain in 2006. From October 2003 to March 2006 he participated in the PEN Writers in Exile Program. During this time, he wrote his second novel, Los más huesos blancos. Jorge Arzola now lives with his family in Cologne.