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Cuban writer Humberto Arenal (1926) has just become the 27th member of the National Literature Awards Club. A jury made up of seven writers and critics voted unanimously for the author of El sol a plomo, (l959), the first novel ever written novel about the Cuban revolution.

Jurors concluded that Arenal's rich and diverse work has been of paramount importance for the Cuban literature. Beginning with El sol a plomo, which he started to sketch in the late '50s while living in New York, Arenal has written other five novels, five books of short stories, two plays and a number of essays and chronicles.

In the late '40s, at the age of 22, Arenal won a scholarship in the United States to study English phonetics, American literature and journalism. He graduated from the New York University and signed it for a course on performing arts with actress Stella Adler. He also studied cinema at the Institute of Film Technique with German-born filmmaker Hans Richter. While in New York, where he lived until 1959, Arenal directed several Off-Broadway theater companies and staged plays by Rumanian author Eugene Ionesco and French writer Jean Cocteau.

He also worked for El diario de Nueva York, one of the most important New York's Hispanic journals as well as the magazines Visión and Objetivo.

Shortly after Fidel Castro and the Rebel Army won the armed struggle against dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Arenal returned to Cuba where he settled down here for good. He joined the Cuban Film Industry as scriptwriter and as a director. He worked closely with Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Cuba's best filmmaker ever, on the script of Alea's first feature film Historias de la Revolución.

As a man of theater, he has staged over 50 plays including the debut of Aire Frío, penned by Cuban playwright Virgilio Piñera. Arenal has also taught drama at the Higher Institute for the Arts in Havana.

Poet Nicolás Guillén was the first Cuban writer awarded with the National Literature Award, in 1983. Humberto Arenal will receive Cubas highest literary award at an official ceremony in February 2008 during Havana's International Book Fair.


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