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Cuba: Interview with Blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Editor's Note: This is an abridged version of the interview of Pardo Lazo. For the complete text, please visit Claudia's blog Octavo Cerco [es].

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo has been blogging since 2008. He was born in Havana, Cuba on December 10, 1971. With a degree in biochemistry obtained in 1994 from the Department of Biology from the City of Havana, he left the sciences for literature. In this field, he received many prizes from official publications such as the Short Story Prize from the magazines La Gaceta 2005 and Cauce 2007 and many other awards. His unofficial publications can be seen as the editor of the e-zine the Revolution Evening Post.

Now he has been publishing in many blogs and digital magazines such as Revistas Cacharro(s) [es], 33 y 1/3 [es], Desliz [es], and The Revolution Evening Post [es], Fogonero Emergente [es], Penúltimos Días [es], Pia McHabana [es] , and Lunes de Post-Revolución [es].

Boring Home book cover

Boring Home book cover

Recently, Pardo Lazo published his book called Boring Home, which was not published by Letras Cubanas. Instead the book was presented at a event on the outskirts of the International Book Fair in Havana. During the week before the presentation, which was organized by blogger Yoani Sánchez of Generación Y [es]. the author had been targeted by a police operation, and by personal threats by email and telephone. Despite that, the book presentation of Boring Home was well-received with the participation of many writers, photographers and bloggers from around the country. The book can be downloaded here (.pdf format) in its entirety.

Claudia Cadelo: When did you start with your blogs Pia McHabana and Lunes de Post-Revolución?

Orlando Luis Pardo: Pia McHabana (whoever it is) started to blog in August of 2008 after a time lost in the internet (I think it has been lost again). In October 2008 I started to write more regularly on my blog Lunes de Post-Revolución, where I publish, more than posts, all of the weekly columns: essays, opinions, delusions, interviews, features, vile ironies, reports, dreams. This blog is my best effort as an author. I would like to see them published on paper some day, but I suspect that it would be a intolerable book.

CC: Was it through the use of blogs that you started to become part of the blogosphere or did you work on another digital space?

OP: Previously I had sporadically appeared on other websites, such as official magazines like Made in Cuba, Esquife, Alma Mater, El Caimán Barbudo and La Jiribilla. Of course, I also became involved in alternative editorial projects like the indpendent magazines Cacharro(s), 33 y 1/3, the projece Desliz, and my own irregular e-zine called The Revolution Evening Post (which I produced together with Cuban writers Jorge Enrique Lage and Ahmel Echevarría Peré). In the blogs Fogonero emergente y Penúltimos Días, among others, one can read a large part of my work as a blogger columnist. There, little by little I started to draw in readers and other friends.

CC: Talk to me about the story behind the book “Boring Home.”

OP: Boring Home is a book using a play on words, where the stories mean less than the discourse. There are extensive stories and others of only one page, but all of them emerge with that pleasure of savoring the words: alliteration before the literary. The characters of my book are lazy and are obsessed with the act of narrating posthumously: how to compile prime material of fiction, how to be an accomplice by provoking friction.

Pardo had been receiving anonymous phone calls after the digital convocation for the book Boring Home, which has been rejected by the state publisher Letras Cubanas, even though it had been approved for publication months before. He said that he had heard rumors that high ranking officials had read the book and some of his blog columns. He adds that he did not respond to any personal attack because then he could be labeled as a “dissident, mercenary, counter-revolutionary, agent, etc.” The prohibition of the book was never made official, according to Pardo and he indicates that it has partly to do with his work as a blogger in order to make an example of him.

CC: You also participate in the blogger gatherings organized by Sánchez, you have many blogs and are a part of Voces Cubanas. How do you feel with the presence of the small blogger community who supported you during these difficult days?

OP: Solidarity. Even without needing to know the entire gravity of the situation, they showed solidarity, civil sympathy, and even a good sense of humor. I thank all of them, especially Yoani Sánchez for accepting the challenge of presenting my book, knowing that no other Cuban writer would be willing to do so. And to you, Claudia, for opening up a window to be able to breath despite such foul air, and for this interview. The bad readers say that they manipulated me to make a big show (even in the phone threats they told me), but to sow this type of carrion is among us the oldest trade in the world. Also, many nice readers and Cuban bloggers attended the book presentation around La Cabaña: we didn't even invade the space around their walls, it was enough to leave a symbolic graffiti next to the drawbridge of the Kafkabaña Castle.

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