By way of offering a brief biography, for readers who are interested in my personal and professional history, and notwithstanding my own questions about my deservedness of the kindness of a recently published report outlining that history, it seems well for me to simply defer to that Time magazine profile, so succinctly and thoughtfully provided by Time’s Editor in Chief, Mr. Howard:
Jorge Salvador is a widely read author with several prior very popular dramatic works of fiction to his credit. Jorge is a child of the decades-long civil war in Guatemala. He credits his success to his hardworking parents and to insights gained through his childhood struggles as a poor child in a small village, raised to age eleven without electrical power or running water. Jorge finds that his parent’s living example and his primitive start strengthened his work ethic and resourcefulness. Jorge was recognized early on in primary school for his generally exceptional intellect, and especially for his unique literary intuition and high aptitude for language and writing.
After receiving early advancement through primary school, Jorge’s family relocated to Antigua, where his father had received an offer of work as a trolley driver making the several times daily connection for tourists from Guatemala City to Antigua. His mother worked as a shopkeeper for a local owner, selling her own jewelry designs, and offering indigenous artworks and textile works on consignment. His parents eventually were able to save enough to open a small cafe in Antigua, which allowed the family of five to live somewhat more comfortably, with some of the modern conveniences that US American children take for granted.
Jorge entered high school one year early. He finished high school one year early as well, by now having bypassed a total of two full grades of preparatory education, when he won an award for national junior literary achievement. Based on that achievement, he was recommended by the Guatemalan government for entry into an international scholarship competition, based on academic achievement and an essay submission.
After already receiving an offer of a full scholarship to the University of Guatemala in Guatemala City, Jorge won the international contest and a full scholarship to Harvard University in Boston, MA, USA. Jorge stood out as an undergrad English major at Harvard, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2007. He was accepted into the prestigious Cornell doctoral program in English Literature.
After receiving his Ph.D. in 2010, Jorge was offered a teaching fellowship at Stanford in San Francisco California, where he has been a professor of English Literature for the past seven years. Jorge and his wife Lila, and their three children live on the beach in Santa Cruz, about 45 minutes from the Stanford campus in Palo Alto. Jorge brought his parents to the US in 2011, settling them nearby in Monterey. And, his two younger siblings and their families also now live in the bay area.
Jorge has written some of the world’s most renowned works of dramatic literary fiction during his relatively short career. His Talismán (Talisman) (2005), which he wrote as a Harvard undergrad, was well received and developed a rather broad following by US consumers of classical literature. His Cuna de las Montañas (2008) was won several prestigious critic’s awards. Del Lobo (2011) (which he largely wrote as a doctoral student) won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize, fully establishing him as one of the world’s most celebrated novelists. And, in 2016, Jorge won the Nobel Prize for Literature—the historic pinnacle of literary achievement—for his 2015 work Caminando Salvaje (Walking Wild).
Now, the monumental Cenizas del Cielo (Ashes of the Sky), represents the culmination of a decade of work done alongside his other famous, though less voluminous books, and aside his numerous academic papers published along the way. The book is to be released this spring (March, 2018) in print through Random House Publishing, and in an electronic version under the auspices of a Random House e-subsidiary.
Jorge Salvador’s success is owed in no small part to his mature literary intuition in setting his themes in familiar surroundings, which infuses them with the a richness of authenticity that can only come from doing so. His characters are modeled on townsfolk from his own humble locale, with all the provincialism, innocence, faults, and heroism he projects of his everyday acquaintances, in his everyday experience of Central American culture throughout his youth.
Jorge’s captivating literary stratagem has been consistent, without becoming formulaic. And, that strategy has been to enjoy developing characters and relationships, to lavish attention on their idiosyncrasies and the subtler aspects of their charm. And, it has involved embracing his still overpowering sense of wonder at the astounding environment of northern and north central Guatemala—an effectively endless expanse of mesmerizing natural exotica—which he depicts with a vividness that no other author has captured.