Chat on Alvaro Mutis at Filbo 2023.
An interesting panel of authors took part in the talk. Photo: @FILBogota.

Filbo 2023 paid tribute to the writer Álvaro Mutis

The event was held in partnership with the Colombian Ministry of Culture and a local television channel.


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Celebrating the extensive legacy left by the iconic poet and novelist between Colombia and Mexico, Guest Country of Honor at the 35th edition of the Bogota International Book Fair, Mexican writers Jorge Volpi and Guillermo Arriaga, in the company of Colombian journalists Juan Camilo Rincón and Yamit Palacio, reflected on the shared value of his work.

In the discussion about Álvaro Mutis, who lived in Mexico from his youth until his death, it was highlighted that the Colombian writer, poet and essayist through his poetry and novels shortened the distances between the two nations, becoming a lyrical reference of the Latin American continent.

Good Memories

Also commemorating the centenary of his birth, the panelists in the talk shared personal anecdotes and delighted the audience with interpretations of his work.

Volpi and Arriaga surprised everyone when they stated that Mutis was ‘the life of the party,’ recalling that he was someone who helped others and lifted them up.

The Mexicans also highlighted the great friendship of the poet with Gabriel García Márquez, and brought up the anecdote of the support provided and the books by Juan Rulfo that Mutis shared with him and that later contributed to his becoming the recognized writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

For his part, Arriaga pointed out that it was Mutis who encouraged him and convinced him to dedicate himself to writing.

Once they sent him a text that I wrote to Mutis. Some time later I was visiting my parents when the phone rings and my dad tells me: 'Álvaro Mutis is speaking to you.' When I answered, he told me: 'Guillermo, dedicate yourself to writing. You did it very well. Congratulations!’ Thanks to him I gained the necessary confidence to be able to continue writing and I dedicated a story to him, called ‘New Orleans.’ He liked it a lot,” recalled Arriaga, who is also a screenwriter and film director.

Colombia Always Present in Mexico

The panelists highlighted that, despite the fact that Mutis settled in Mexico from a young age, his works show the special love he had for Colombia.

Highlighting how writing far from the country was a transcendental issue for Mutis, Rincón made reference to the garden that Mutis had in his home and how that place, different from Mexico, symbolized the Colombia that Mutis loved so much.

The garden is a representation of what his poetry is and what his novel is. Several of Mutis's works narrate the climate and fauna of his Tolima, of the Colombian climate. But one day, Juan Rulfo, one of his colleagues, seeing that Mutis had already been in Mexico for a long time, asked him: 'Why don't you become a national?' And Álvaro replied: 'The day curubas are born in Mexico'. Some time later, Rulfo would give him some curuba seeds and he planted them in his patio, however, he never stopped being Colombian. His garden patio was his Colombia in the Mexico that he loved so much,” shared Rincón.

The meeting ended by concluding that Álvaro Mutis, in addition to creating novels that went down in the history of Latin America, was the connecting bridge between two cultures, Mexico and Colombia, as well as the link of a close relationship between generations.


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