The Garden of Congratulations / Angel Santiesteban

Interpreting the triptych “The Garden of Delights,” by El Bosco, we can find, ironically speaking, a comparison with the winner of the Frank Kafka 2012 award, “Long is the Night,” by Cuban writer Frank Correa, who delights in telling stories, just like emptying oil paint onto the palette and passing the brush through it so that the paint moves, becomes confused, converting itself into a range of unimaginable colors for the painter himself, who accepts it as a revelation under discovery.

Correa, through his narration, invites us on a journey to discover alongside him impoverished Cuban society. Like a mannequin, he undresses the social reality of a country inhabited by ghosts. His characters live a constant day-to-day agony, a balancing act sensation on the razor’s edge that is tipped by the tiniest of bad things. With fresh and colloquial reading, his more than two hundred pages are read. He plays with ironies, and in moments–like the flash of a camera–the humor hidden in the circumstance appears, an intrinsic part of Cuban idiosyncrasy.

Thanks to the generosity of the organizations of the “International Franz Kafka Prize of Novels from the Drawer” competition, held in the Czech Republic, it was avoided, as the name indicates–novels from the drawer–that this work remains in the dark oblivion of an artist, that it clamors and struggles, for rights of its own, a space in national literature.

The fiction of the novel culminates with my most absolute reality: prison. His character and I intertwine, between fable and reality, invention and nature; our silhouettes cross and skip times, with that protest of wanting to awaken and abandon the dangers of prison, and–with much to write and to invent itself another space–always finish with the caning of the guards against the fence, yelling TO SLEEP!

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement. March 2014

To sign the petition for Amnesty International to declare Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience, follow the link.

Translated by LW
17 March 2014

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