José Manuel Prieto was born in 1962 in Havana. At age 19, after taking his school-leaving exam, he left Cuba and went to Novosibirsk to study electronic engineering, which is where he met his future wife Elena. During the Perestroika he lived with his wife in St. Petersburg, where their daughter Alicia was born. He has lived in Mexico City since 1995.
In 1996 his first book of stories ´Nunca antes habías visto el rojo´ (t: You Have Never Seen Red Before) was published in Cuba. He published his first novel ´Enciclopedia de una vida en Rusia´ (t: Encyclopedia of a Life in Russia) in 1998 in Mexico. An excerpt from the novel can be found in the anthology ´Cubanísimo. Junge Erzähler aus Kuba´ (t: Cubanísimo. Young Writers from Cuba). His second novel ´Livadia´ (´Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire,´ 2001) which was published in Barcelona in 1999 has been translated into seven languages including German (to appear in February 2004). The novel has been praised as a jewel by literary critics among others in The New York Times and The New York Review of Books. This is not only because an intelligent interlinear network of literary references and allusions runs through the narrative texture in an original way, recalling Nabokovís greatest moments, but also for the formidable history reflecting the post-Soviet Russia.
José Manuel Prieto has emerged also as a brilliant translator of Russian literature into Spanish. His translation work includes poems by Gennadi Aygi, Anna Akhmatova, Marina Cvetaeva, and Josef Brodsky as well as prose by Andre Platonov, Victor Pelevin, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Vladimir Nabokov.
In 2002 he published two new books: in Mexico his second book of stories ´El tartamudo y la rusa´ (t: The Stutterer and the Russian) and in Barcelona his first travel book ´Treinta días en Moscú´ (t: Thirty Days in Moscow). In 2002 he received a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.
Author: International Festival of Literature Berlin (ilb)