Chilean writer Jorge Edwards, winner of the Cervantes Prize in 1999 and author of the ‘bestseller’ “Persona non grata”, in which he recounts his dismay at the Cuban revolution, died this Friday in Madrid at the age of 91.
“An exceptional novelist has left, a courageous essayist and a journalist attentive to all strata of the news. We will miss his vitality and his moral stature”, said the Instituto Cervantes through the social network Twitter.
Today the writer is dead 🇨🇱 Jorge Edwards. He gave us an exceptional novelist, a valiant essayist and a journalist on both the covers of current affairs. We will detract from his vitality and his moral height.
I left a legacy there #CajadelasLetters which will unfold in 2035. pic.twitter.com/HWSKGhtsFH
— Instituto Cervantes (@InstCervantes)
March 17, 2023
Born in Santiago in 1931, Jorge Edwards studied at the Faculty of Law at the University of Chile and did postgraduate work at Princeton University, in the United States.
He served in Chilean diplomacy between 1957 and 1973, until Augusto Pinochet’s military coup (1973-1990), serving in Paris, Lima and in a mission that particularly marked him: Havana. Edwards spent three months in the Cuban capital in 1971 to open the Chilean embassy on behalf of the socialist government of Salvador Allende (1970-73), one of the first to re-establish diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro’s regime.
His dual role as diplomat and writer allowed him to come into contact with writers on the island who told him a different point of view from the official version. Jorge Edwards was never officially expelled, but he left Cuba earlier than planned, heading for Paris, where he reunited with his friend Pablo Neruda, then ambassador to France. From this period in Cuba, he learned to “distinguish between appearances, outward gestures, formal speeches and realities”, he admitted in 2018.
In 1973 he moved to Barcelona where he came into contact with other Latin American writers who lived there, such as the Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa.
Named ambassador of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in Paris in 1994, he received the Miguel Cervantes Prize five years later. Jorge Edwards held his last position as a diplomat at the Chilean Embassy in France, from 2010 to 2014, during the first term of Chilean President Sebastian Piñera.
Jorge Edwards wrote numerous novels, short stories, essays and autobiographical works. He also collaborated with European and Latin American media, such as the daily Le Monde in France, El Pais in Spain, Il Corriere della Sera in Italy, the Argentine newspapers La Nacion and Clarin, as well as the Mexican magazine Letras Libres.