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Miguel Ángel Asturias

Miguel Ángel AsturiasBorn: 19-Oct-1899
Birthplace: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Died: 9-Jun-1974
Location of death: Madrid, Spain
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris, France

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Hispanic
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Author, Diplomat

Nationality: Guatemala
Executive summary: Guatemalan protest writer

Guatemalan author Miguel Ángel Asturias had little patience with fiction written merely to entertain, believing instead that writing worth reading must serve a moral or political purpose. His passions were the rights of the Mayans and other Latin American natives, and a fierce indignation that his and other nations in the region were ruled by dictatorships or by proxy governments controlled by the United States. His novel El Señor Presidente (Mr President) was meant as a blistering attack on the regime of Manuel Estrada Cabrera, but can easily be read as a broader attack on dictatorships across Central and South America. His Hombres de Maiz (Men of Maize) illuminated the challenges of Mayans in adapting to modern technology, and El Papa Verde (The Green Pope) exposed the overbearing brutality of the United Fruit Company. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1967.

At the age of 22 he was a founder of the Popular University of Guatemala, a college for students unable to afford tuition at traditional colleges. He spent many years working as a reporter, and endured several extended stretches in exile from his native Guatemala over his political views. During more progressive times in his country he served in the diplomatic corps, with assignments in Mexico, Argentina, El Salvador, and France. His son, Rodrigo Asturias, became a guerrilla leader in Guatemala's long civil war, infamous under the alter ego Gaspar Ilom — a name borrowed from his father's novel Hombres de Maíz.

Father: Ernesto Asturias (spice importer)
Mother: Maria Rosales de Asturias (teacher)
Wife: Clemencia Amado (m. 1939, div. 1947, two sons)
Son: Rodrigo (guerrilla commander, "Gaspar Ilom", b. 1939, d. 2005)
Son: Miguel Angel
Wife: Blanca Mora y Araujo (m. 1950)

    Law School: Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (1923)
    Scholar: Anthropology, Sorbonne (1925-28)
    Administrator: Co-Founder, Popular University of Guatemala (1921)

    Chavez Prize 1923
    Galvez Award 1923
    Lenin Peace Prize 1966
    Nobel Prize for Literature 1967
    Guatemalan Ambassador to France (1966-70)
    Guatemalan Ambassador to El Salvador (1953-54)
    Guatemalan Attache to France (1952-53)
    Guatemalan Attache to Argentina (1947-52)
    Guatemalan Attache to Mexico (1946-47)
    Exiled 1954

Author of books:
La Arquitectura de la Vida Nueva (Architecture of the New Life) (1928, essays)
Leyendas de Guatemala (Legends of Guatemala) (1930, short stories)
Sonetos (Sonnets) (1936, poetry)
El Señor Presidente (Mr. President) (1946, novel)
Hombres de Maíz (Men of Maize) (1949, novel)
Viento Fuerte (Strong Wind) (1950, novel)
El Papa Verde (The Green Pope) (1954, novel)
Weekend en Guatemala (Weekend in Guatemala) (1956, short stories)
Los Ojos de los Enterrados (The Eyes of the Interred) (1960, novel)
Obras Completas (Complete Works) (1967, anthology)


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