Alejo Carpentier, Novelist, Journalist and Activist

Novelist, journalist, and political activist Alejo Carpentier was born in Havana, Cuba on December 26, 1904, to a French father and Russian mother. After spending time in Europe during his childhood, he began writing at age 15 when the family returned to Cuba. Carpentier became active in political resistance to the Cuban dictatorships of the 1920s and 30s, and was imprisoned.  During his years of exile away from Cuba, he found his literary soul, “I dedicated myself for years to reading everything I could find on America, from the letters of Christopher Columbus to … the Inca Garcilase de la Vega. I did nothing else for years, I believe, but read American texts. America was seen as an enormous nebula that I tried to understand, because I felt vaguely that my work originated there, that it was going to be profoundly American.” A supporter of Fidel Castro, Carpentier returned to Cuba in 1959 when the Communist regime triumphed. He then served Cuba as editor and diplomat.