A face of exile

Migration has thousands of faces. One is artists who have left national borders in search of better options – social, economic and cultural – to cultivate a business and live off the income it provides.

In Colombian literature, the case of authors traveling abroad and writing books that bore themselves in literary pamphlets and in readers’ memory has been a constant. The names Porfirio Barba Jacob, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Alvaro Mutis and Fernando Vallejo are just a few examples.

In addition to tangible and material conditions, patriotic writers distance themselves from the country to narrate its contradictions and there is no way out from the perspective offered by the kilometers. Several Latin American authors “discovered” Latin America in political and economic exile

Reasons for denial

EL COLOMBIANO spoke with three writers who had lived abroad for several years – David Betancourt (Mexico), Ricardo Cano Gaviria (Spain) and Josef Avsky (US) – about the reasons for leaving and staying abroad. Driven by the dream of completing their apprenticeship, Betancourt and Avski emigrated. They applied for international scholarships after ensuring the tight publishing market and the high costs of postgraduate studies in Colombia.

“The decision to live abroad has something to do with my literary career. When I decided to live abroad, I had finished Physics, I was planning to get my Ph.D. in Physics and learned my Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. At the time there were no programs Creative in Columbia and didn’t know it existed as a professional career and decided not to get a Ph.D. in physics but to apply to the University of Texas and apply for a master’s degree,” says Avsky.

Betancourt’s story is similar: “Here they pay to study and there is plenty of time left to write.” In addition, writing in Colombia is not yet a trade supposedly a profession. He still carries a crutch as a hobby.

With more time to live abroad, Cano Gaviria uses reasons of a more existential nature: “My decision to live outside Colombia was born very early, perhaps when I was just a teenager I read Jules Verne and tied his beard to that of Victor Hugo, a contemporary. This is how this took me Early focus on beards to France spiritually, which got into my eyes, so to speak…everything else came later on its own.

In addition, a very strong reason to live outside Colombia if you want to live from literature is the power of the Mexican, Argentine and Spanish circles in the reading agendas of the continent.

A title published in one of these three publishing centers is more likely to reach a Spanish-speaking audience than an address published in Colombia.


The works of many authors – even signed by major publishers – do not reach continental audiences, but are limited to local consumption. “I understand that living in Mexico and Spain – the two most powerful publishing markets – can bring a writer closer to the livability of literature. In addition, many of those who have had some success have gone to these latitudes to increase their chances. In addition, it allows you to live in Countries like Mexico and Spain get into the circle of book fairs, talks, conferences, invitations. Anyway. This helps the writer to live off literature,” says Avsky, while making clear that the reality of a Spanish writer living in countries outside Cervantes is completely different, and more counterproductive if possible. .

Inspired by his experience, Betancourt hints at the benefits of subsidies for higher education: “One can devote oneself entirely to writing without worrying about money if one has a scholarship.”

Repetitive world environments are also a way to break with themes of national literature. The writer is, in and of itself, a global citizen, able to nourish himself from disparate experiences and ways of approaching reality.

For Cano Gaviria there is an enormous difference, for example, between those who see their city after seeing the world and those who do so without grasping the universal aesthetics, and understanding the poetics of other places: “To have a greater experience of the world, in learning, corresponds to the best excellence of the particular , in the result … As for writing outside Colombia, it is absolutely advisable, if you have nothing to lose …”.

Betancourt supports him: “Being far away I see things there more clearly, and for this reason, though I live far away, everything I write is about Colombia and Medellin.”

The three authors consulted for this note have published books in medium-sized international publishing houses. The Veracruzana University Press has published the book of stories laughter fits Betancourt. Kano Gaviria published E .’s novelsthe passenger Walter Benjaminin Spanish Pamiela and Lesson from the abyss With Versal, they are both Spanish.

Avski published in the United States scorpio heart By Tiny Toe Press, a translation of the novel won by IX ed9c9¿0j from the Medellin Chamber of Commerce National Novel Competition.

Indeed, abroad, there are more options for being a writer, but that does not mean that the road to literary glory is a four-lane highway.

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