He is from Bolivia and took his first steps in the world of literature in 1981, although he had dabbled since childhood, inspired primarily by the example of his father Antonio Carvalho, who was one of the most well-known intellectuals in the Bolivian Amazon.
Viviana Díaz Frías
His official debut was in 1983 with his collection of short stories “Biography of an autumn”. But before this publication he was already writing for newspapers, magazines and literary supplements. This is what he had to say in conversation with Prensa Latina.
Around this time, between 1980 and 1982, Homero experienced one of the chapters that would most indelibly mark his life: exile. This experience changed his way of looking at and narrating reality, and brought him closer to themes linked to politics and society.
At university he was the student leader of his Sociology course; he was imprisoned during Hugo Banzer’s dictatorship for taking part in the Hunger Strike initiated by Domitila Chungara and lived in exile in Mexico during Luís García Meza’s government. “I began to write about injustice with stories about the rural and the urban,” he says.
Forced into abandoning his home by the political situation in his country when García Meza snatched the Bolivian presidency, he moved to Mexico, where he began to build a name for himself as a writer. “In 1981, I won the Premio Latinoamericano del Cuento (the Latin American Short Story Prize) and had one of the experiences that has made most impact on my career as a writer – shaking the hand of Juan Rulfo, one of my literary idols,” he reminisces.
This role model led him to focus more on prose at this point, leaving poetry on the back burner.
“When I was a teenager I wrote poetry, but I had never published a book and my poems were all over the place. When I finally decided to take writing seriously, I dedicated my time to short stories because I’m of the generation influenced by the writers of the Latin American Boom,” he said.
From his “serious” arrival onto the literary stage, Homero wrote stories and novels like “The Memory of Mirrors”, which won him the National Prize for the genre in 1996, by which time he had returned to Bolivia.
“In fiction, I started by writing about my place, the space I come from, the Amazon. My first stories were rural, centred on life in the countryside, because by reading Gabriel García Márquez and Rulfo I became aware that they could and should be told,” he confirms.
He also writes about the country’s political and social situation, taking on themes to do with justice and other urgent problems in Bolivian society. The author defines 2008 as the year of his return to poetry, with the publication of the poetry collection “Doors” (Editorial Plural de la Paz).
From this point on, he began to consolidate his contribution to poetry, which was confirmed by receiving the Premio Nacional de Poesía (National Poetry Prize) in 2012 for the collection “Nocturnal Inventory”.
As a poet, his passions are love and eroticism, on the one hand, and nature and life on the other, especially everything related to the Amazon and its children, among whom he counts himself.
According to Homero, he enjoys a “somewhat strange relationship” with fiction and poetry. Today, after writing for more than 40 years, he cannot survive without either of them, and to each one he dedicates its due time, space and importance.
“I think that in the narrative form, us writers are a species of god-like creator: we create the plot, the characters, the atmosphere, everything. However, poetry is God, and brings make us his character through the poem. I feel comfortable in both roles,” he confesses.
With pleasure he remembers meeting Fidel Castro in 1993. On finding out that the Cuban leader would be attending Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada’s inauguration, Homero and three friends pasted photos of Fidel all over the city of La Paz, especially over a long stretch of the motorway from the airport in order to give him a warm welcome.
“I think my generation was greatly influenced by the Cuban Revolution, we wanted to emulate it. And when we talk about the Cuban Revolution, we’re indisputably talking about two men: Che Guevara and Fidel Castro,” he says, explaining his actions of 26 years ago. The result was that Fidel asked to meet the people behind the posters after his scheduled activities, and met with them to talk and thank them for the gesture.
“It was a very special experience for me. Just like, on the literary side of things, shaking Juan Rulfo’s hand was wonderful, shaking hands with Comandante Fidel was very pleasing on the political one,” he explains further.
And Homero concludes, “I’m a dreamer on a constant search, how could I stop doing it?” (PL)
(Translated by Elizabeth Dann – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Prensa Latina