PEDRO JUAN GUTIÉRREZ
Pedro Juan Gutiérrez born in 1950 (Matanzas, Cuba). He began to work when he was thirteen years old like a vendor of ice-creams and newspapers. He was a soldier, swimming and kayak instructor, agricultural worker, technician in construction, technical designer, radiostation speaker, and journalist for 26 years.
Gutiérrez is author of several poetry books, and author of Dirty Havana Trilogy, El Rey de la Habana (“King of Havana”), Tropical Animal (winner of the Spanish prize Alfonso García Ramos 2000), the short stories book Melancolía de los leones (“Melancholy of the lions”), The insatiable spiderman (winner of the Italian prize Narrativa Sur del Mundo), El nido de la serpiente (“The snake nest”winner of the Prix des Amériques insulaires et de la Guyane 2008), Our GG in Havana, Carne de perro and Corazón mestizo (“Mestizo heart”), a Cuban travel book.
In his last book, Diálogo con mi sombra, Gutiérrez explores in depth the art of writing, but the book is also a wonderful making-of about the work by this Cuban author which has become an enduring myth in Latin American literature.
His new novel, Fabián y el caos, was published in September 2015 by Anagrama.
The movie based on his novel El Rey de La Habana (King of Havana) was released in October 2015.
Screenplay and Direction by Agustí Villaronga.
Fabián y el caos (Anagrama, September 2015)
Cuba in the 1960s. The revolution has triumphed and two boys with apparently nothing in common strike up a friendship. Pedro Juan, a familiar figure to readers of Pedro Juan Gutierrez’s books, is athletic and stocky; with time, he turns into a lady killer with a penchant for voluptuous women. Fabian is the complete opposite: weak, easily frightened and short-sighted, he plays the piano and is homosexual. His Madrid-born mother and Catalan father had emigrated to the island in the 1920s where they had known better times in pre-revolution Cuba.
This improbable friendship will last and the two boys’ paths will cross again in the ensuing years. By then Pedro Juan will have become a hedonist who enjoys having sex with buxom, fancy-free women, including a frenzied no-holds-barred sixty-year-old. Fabian will have become an artist incapable of standing up to hostile reality; arrested for being a queer, he manages to pull through but is seized by fear and lives ever more locked up within himself. The two of them bump into each other again in a meat packing factory where the outcasts of the new revolutionary society are employed, but their destinies will be irreparably different.
Based on real life, this is a novel of contrasts: light and shadow, liveliness and despair, indulgence and repression.
Written in the author’s customary gritty, visceral tone and set against the background of an effervescent, seamy Cuba, it tells the story of the impossible friendship between two outcasts of the revolution, between two young men who refuse to accept official proclamations and lies and who search for their patch of freedom with dissimilar fates. Fabian y el caos is fresh proof of the stunning talent of Pedro Juan Gutierrez, a Caribbean-style Bukowski. Like all his work, it exudes sex and bleakness, power and pessimism.
Foreign rights sold:
Italy: Edizioni E/O
Bulgaria: Janet 45
Diálogo con mi sombra (Anagrama, Fall 2017)
In his new book Gutiérrez explores in depth the art of writing, but the book is also a wonderful making-of about the work by this Cuban author which has become an enduring myth in Latin American literature.
Pedro Juan, the devilish protagonist of almost all the prose and poetry penned by Gutiérrez, becomes an implacable inquisitor who continually corners his creator, pushing him up against the ropes, firing out one question after another, some very malicious with a catch, which his author tries to answer calmly and patiently with razor-edged sharpness.
This book encapsulates everything that Gutiérrez fans could wish for: his infancy and youth, and his deepest opinions about the very serious game of literature; the surgical precision of irreverence and obscenity; the brutal and hyperrealist setting of central Havana; the role of sex; the blurred frontiers between reality and fiction, what it means to be a writer in the Caribbean, the role of the anti-hero and the mundane, and much more.
Foreign rights sold:
Greece: Metaixmio, 2017
Trilogía sucia de la Habana (Anagrama, 1998)
Dirty Havana Trilogy tells the story of Pedro Juan, an ex-radio journalist who wanders from one odd job to the next, half-disgusted and half-fascinated by his predicament. Working as a garbage-man, dealing on the black market, selling marijuana, and hustling lady tourists off the streets, Pedro Juan throws himself wholeheartedly into the pleasures of the flesh in his squalid surroundings: drink, sex and more sex.
A visceral and unforgettable picaresque, a damning portrait of vice and poverty, and an insane journey into the condemned soul of a sexual deviant, Dirty Havana Trilogy is a Tropic of Cancer for these times.
Fuelled with a mix of alcohol, music and sex, the book leaves nothing unscathed: it’s real literature, one of the best books this season. (Tiempo)
Gutiérrez is a Caribbean Bukowski or Havana-style Henry Miller. (Felipe Benítez Reyes, Tribuna)
France: Albin Michel, 2001
Germany: Hoffmann und Campe, 2002
Italy: Edizioni E/O, 1998
United Kingdom: Faber and Faber, 2001
Greece: Metaixmio, 2007
Romania: Editura Trei, 2007
United States: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001
Netherlands: Uitgeverij Vassallucci, 2002
Hungary: Athenaeum, 2003
Poland: Zysk i S-ka Wydawnictwo S.j., 2004
Croatia: Znanje, 2004
Finland: WSOY, 2005
Sweden: Bokförlaget Lind & Co. AB, 2010
Portugal: Dom Quixote, 2001
Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 1999 / Alfaguara 2015
Norway: Gyldendal, 2005
Israel: Am Oved Publishers Ltd., 2005
Venezuela: Editorial Khaos, 2005
Bulgaria: Janet 45, 2007
Slovakia: Zamik, 2008
El Rey de la Habana (Anagrama, 1999)
This is the tale of a teenager pitched into the streets of Havana in the 1990s. Inspired by a real-life story, it’s blunt, with no embellishments or adornments, in the best tradition of dirty realism. Pedro Juan Gutiérrez continues his saga about Havana and its poorest inhabitants who live on the margins of society – beggars, prostitutes, transvestites, street vendors, rogues and drunkards –, the inhabitants of an abandoned building in ruins, people without enough to eat or a penny to their name, people always just one step away from death: a terrible, apocalyptic human fauna.
‘This is the voice of the unheard’, says the author about his characters. ‘The people who have to scratch out a living day in day out, who’re left with no time or energy for anything else. People whose one and only objective is to survive. Any how, any way. They don’t know why or what for. They’re just determined to survive for one more day. That’s all.’ Yet despite everything, the lives of these tormented souls are marked by love, sex and tenderness.
Turkey: Ayrinti Yayinlari, 2015
France: Albin Michel, 2004
Germany: Hoffmann und Campe, 2003
Italy: Edizioni E/O, 1999
Greece: Metaixmio, 2009
Romania: Editura Trei, 2010
Hungary: Magvetó, 2008
Portugal: Dom Quixote, 2001
Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 2001/Alfaguara 2015
Bulgaria: Janet 45, 2008
Cuba: Ediciones Unión, 2009
Czech Republic: Garamond, 2009
Turkey: Ayrinti Yayinlari, 2015
Film rights sold to Tusitala Producciones Cinematográficas, S.L
Screenplay and direction: Agustí Villaronga
Animal tropical (Anagrama, 2000)
In Tropical Animal, Gutierrez again initiates the reader in a profoundly dirty urban realism. Sexy, sordid and sleazy, it brings to mind the likes of Miller and Bukowski, but is unmistakably, and inimitably, its own thing.
Publication of Dirty Havana Trilogy, Gutierrez's first novel to be translated into English, catapulted him into the front rank of internationally renowned Latin American authors. Tropical Animal sees the return of the already infamous Pedro Juan, the protagonist at the heart of the first novel. Pursued by Gloria, a proud and sophisticated prostitute on a mission to curb his predatory instincts, Pedro Juan is holed-up in his crumbling Havana apartment, painting, with a growing sense of melancholy as he observes the lives of the hustlers, hipsters and hookers in the city below him.
An invitation to Sweden, of all places - cold, unwelcoming, the very antithesis of Pedro's Cuba - seems to offer him a way out, and the seductive phone manner of Agneta proves persuasive enough for him to leave for Europe. However, he soon finds himself haunted by memories of Gloria and their wild sex together, and increasingly uninspired by his new environment. Does Pedro Juan, legendary sexual conquistador and imbiber of hard liquor and substances, finally have to admit that the game is over? Or do his hedonistic instincts have juice enough to keep him active yet?
France: Albin Michel, 2002
Germany: Hoffmann und Campe, 2004
Italy: Edizioni E/O, 2001
United Kingdom: Faber and Faber, 2003
Greece: Metaixmio, 2004
Romania: Editura Trei, 2009
United States: Carroll & Graf, 2005
Hungary: Athenaeum 2000 Kiadó, 2005
Poland: Zysk i S-ka Wydawnictwo S.j., 2005
Finland: WSOY, 2003
Portugal: Dom Quixote, 2003
Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 2002
Cuba: Editorial Letras Cubanas, 2002
Bulgaria: Janet 45, 2009
Serbia: Laguna, 2011
Melancolía de los leones (Editorial Unión, La Habana, 2000/Amazon)
With a surprising spareness of words, the author combines the poetic, the absurd and the strange in this collection of short stories in which he demonstrates the skills of a born narrator.
Gutiérrez began this book in the 1980s – it took him thirteen years to write – and considers it his private tribute to Frank Kafka and Julio Cortázar, the two writers he worships.
Spain: Odisea Editorial, 2005
Italy: Edizioni E/O, 2002
Serbia: Signature, 2003
Greece: Metaixmio, 2011
El insaciable hombre araña (Anagrama, 2002)
Pedro Juan Gutiérrez’s bestselling novel, Dirty Havana Trilogy, was hugely acclaimed for its honest depiction of a Cuban capital characterized by sleaze, sex, poverty and hedonism. In The Insatiable Spider Man we see the return of its anti-hero, who is again prowling the streets of Havana.
Pedro Juan's relationship with his wife, Julia, is in terminal decline. He can no longer bear kissing her on the mouth and the trappings of domestic bliss hold no charms for this most restless and predatory of men. Our narrator's interests lie elsewhere: in the infinite possibilities of a chaotic Caribbean city and many chancers, artists and prostitutes who roam the streets in search of fresh experience.
Pedro Juan Gutiérrez again takes the reader on a journey into the underbelly of contemporary Havana - a world of easy sex, hard drinking and humorous anecdotes, that will be all too recognizable to the Gutiérrez connoisseur.
France: 13ème Note Editions, 2012
Germany: Hoffmann und Campe, 2006
United Kingdom: Faber and Faber, 2005
United States : Carroll & Graf, 2005
Portugal: Dom Quixote, 2004
Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 2004
Carne de perro (Anagrama, 2003)
"A vicious mix of violence, aggressiveness, lust, sadism and a thirst for alcohol swelled inside me. But I also felt my heart harden. More and more, day by day. That was exactly what I wanted: a heart of stone." So says the protagonist of Carne de perro as he tries to distance himself in pursuit of solitude and inner quiet. He tries to get away, to escape from the devastating day-to-day madness of a life spent tottering on the edge of a chasm. But everything crashes around him like a fierce, relentless tropical storm, gradually wearing him down.
Like the books that go before it, Carne de perro is autobiographical and stark. As he bares his innermost self to readers, Gutiérrez looks on with a cynical smile, mocking everything and everybody in this series of brilliantly interwoven stories.
Foreign editions :
Germany: Hoffmann und Campe, 2008
Portugal: Dom Quixote, 2005
Italy: Edizioni E/O, 2003
Nuestro GG en la Habana (Anagrama, 2004)
GG - who may or may not be Graham Greene - arrives in Havana in 1955 in search of a good time. He heads to the Shanghai Theatre, and after becoming transfixed by the sex acts he sees, goes backstage to meet the star of the show, Charity. GG falls for her and they spend the night together. But when he returns the following night, he finds, to his horror, a dead body in her dressing room. The next day a newspaper article reveals he is considered the culprit.
Packed with Cuban intelligence officials, dead bodies, spies and the heady nightlife of Havana, Gutierrez rewrites Our Man in Havana, lacing the narrative with observations of Greene’s work, his sources of inspiration, his desires and his phobias in a novel of sex, spies and literary gamesmanship.
Foreign editions :
Italy: Edizioni E/O, 2005
United Kingdom: Faber and Faber, 2010
Cuba: Editorial Unión, 2006
Portugal: Dom Quixote, 2007
Brazil: Editora Objetiva, 2008
El nido de la serpiente (Anagrama, 2006 )
This novel is an essential prequel for readers of the by now classic Dirty Havana Trilogy for which Gutiérrez received so much deserved acclaim.
It’s the 1960s. Pedro Juan lives in Matanzas, a port near Havana. Portrayed between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one, he’s hot headed, insolent and perhaps just a little bit crazy as he hurtles through the novel at breakneck speed. On the way, he rebounds off tens of characters, creating the breathless feel of a period that was chaotic and effervescent. Many of today’s legendary names were born in the sixties. Here, one of the survivors tells his life of despair and reflects on the wreckage.
Foreign editions :
France: Albin Michel, 2007
Italy: Edizioni E/O, 2006
Brazil: Companhia Das Letras, 2006
Corazón mestizo (Planeta, 2007 /Amazon, 2013)
Chronicling a fascinating journey through the island, Gutiérrez gives an authentic and honest glimpse of the island and people he knows so intimately.
In this personal and provocative account, he sketches a vast mosaic of experiences and situations, landscapes and villages, conversations and outlandish occurrences. All are real, all are Cuban, all are laced with good rum and good music.
It is a frank book, sad and decidedly brave. Gutiérrez puts together a delicious story based on conversations and convivial meals, observations and encounters with a multitude of real-life characters, the likes of artists, coal makers, faith healers, friends, lovers and transvestites. He depicts a frenzied journey where the history of the island, past and present, unfolds, the unwritten history, the history of the people and of their fortunes and misfortunes.