Biography of Gustavo Alvárez Gardeazábal (1945-VVVV)

Storyteller and Colombian politician, born in 1945 in Tuluá (in the Department of Valle del Cauca). By its active presence in the main political events in his country during the second half of the 20th century, as well as his deep and vigorous narrative analysis of daily life in Colombia - always committed with the denunciation of violent attitudes-, he/she is considered as one of the great contemporary Latin American intellectuals.

Born in a family of accused political tradition (his father was a prominent supporter of the conservative forces, while his mother was openly sympathetic to liberal causes), the young Gustavo lived since childhood immersed in a rich confrontation of ideas that ultimately would end up forming the character conciliator and eclectic, always ready to assimilate the best of all ideologies. It began, however, meaning by their allegiance to the conservatism of the presidential aspirant Belisario Betancur, in whose election campaign took part activated while ending his political and intellectual education in the University of Valle, where he/she graduated in letters with a dissertation on the novels of violence in Colombia (1970). The title headed this exhaustive research work would become, time, in the thematic substance of all his literary production.

After these early in the public life of their nation by the conservative political forces, Álvarez Gardeazábal went away from the ideological substrate inherited from his father to go little by little, assuming a series of ideas that were approaching sign liberal parties. Defendant, sometimes move in an ambiguous ideological terrain, took party of it both in the progression of his political career and the evolution of his literary career, bearing in mind that managed to cover in their election manifestos and his fictional texts throughout the complex social fabric which, at present, constituted in Motley political and cultural framework of Colombia. So, in 1988 sought the support of independent, conservative and liberal forces to climb up to the Mayor of his hometown, at a point in his life where he/she was already well known for his literary gifts. This unconditional support from all parties and social forces allowed, also, access to the post of Governor of the Department of Valle del Cauca, where he/she had his duties covered by broad popular support.

Before his final political consecration at the head of the consistory of Tulua, Gustavo Álvarez Gardeazábal had already formed a vast and fecund narrative universe composed of ten novels and a book of short stories. After the successful outbreak in the American romantic landscape with opera prima entitled the tare of the Pope (Buenos Aires: Fabril Editora, 1971), Colombian writer gave to press one of its best narrative, entitled condors not buried every day (Barcelona: Ed. destination, 1972), one of the best literary frescoes of the painful violent degradation process whereby his country was going through.

Subsequently, Álvarez Gardeazábal published the boba and the Buddha (Bogotá: Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, 1972), novel which followed several literary deliveries of identical genre, such as Dabeiba (Barcelona: Ed. destination, 1973), the bazaar of the idiots (Bogota: Plaza y Janés, 1974) and puppeteer (Bogota: Plaza y Janés, 1977). Then Tulua writer provided a printed compilation of his short stories, collected in the book entitled tales of the Parque Boyacá (Bogotá: Plaza y Janés, 1978), to resume after its fictional journey with mine (Bogota: Plaza y Janés, 1981), El Divino (Bogotá: Plaza y Janés, 1986) and the last gamonal (Bogotá: Plaza y Janés, 1987). Subsequently, already immersed in the political vicissitudes of their nation, not is it stole her literary vocation and offered two new romantic delivery: the deaf don't speak (Bogotá: Plaza y Janés, 1991) and the scars of Don Antonio (Bogota: Plaza y Janés, 1997).

In general, Gustavo Álvarez Gardeazábal is served in its narrations of a plain, expressive and refined language which, escaping from any experimental attempt, rejects the profusion of ornaments (such as the superfluous pitched or structural arabesques) to get directly to all sorts of readers. It is undoubtedly this style clear and concise which allowed it to disseminate widely its literary production not only in his native country, but in many Spanish-speaking places, that has earned the praise of critics and the backing of several juries of the most prestigious competitions. But, as it is easy to understand, it is in Colombia where most successful have reached all his novels, interpreted as a live literary reflection of the political, social and cultural reality that the country is experiencing. This is due not only to expressive ease of Tulua writer, but also to its careful selection of some issues that, in the second half of the twentieth century, constitute the best exponent of beating Colombian today: the extension of the indiscriminate violence, milagrera trickery that sustains the American religious conservatism, the absolute power of large landownersnew bags of wealth generated by the expansion of drug trafficking, the corruption generated by the cacique system of the gamonales and ideological crises of the progressive sectors (reflected in novels of Álvarez Gardeazábal in University leftists in the 1970s mainly).


-RAMIREZ SANTOS, Alberto: compendium of Colombian biographies. (Bogota: 1995).

-VÉLEZ CORREA, Robert. Gardeazabal (Bogota: Plaza y Janés, 1986).

-WILLIAMS, Raymond L. approaches to Gustavo Álvarez Gardeazábal (Bogotá: Plaza y Janés, 1977).

J. R. Fernández Cano.