Eliécer Cárdenas

Eliécer Cárdenas

Eliécer Cárdenas Espinosa (Cañar, December 10, 1950 – Cuenca, September 26, 2021) was a renowned Ecuadorian writer, encompassing the realms of novel writing, short stories, playwriting, and journalism. His novel “Polvo y ceniza” (1979) stands as the highest-selling novel in Ecuadorian history, solidifying his literary success. With a remarkable body of work comprising more than 20 books, including novels, collections of short stories, plays, and nonfiction, Cárdenas proved to be a prolific author. His play “Morir en Vilcabamba” (1988) received the esteemed Aurelio Espinosa Pólit Prize in recognition of its excellence. In 1991, he was elected as the president of the Azuay branch of the House of Ecuadorian Culture. Moreover, Cárdenas became a member of the Ecuadorian Academy of Language in 2016. He was the editor-in-chief of the newspaper El Tiempo in Cuenca and served as the director of the Municipal Library in the same city. Furthermore, Eliécer Cárdenas had the esteemed privilege of serving as a jury member for the Casa de las Américas Prize in the novel genre, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the Spanish-speaking world, held annually in Cuba.

Educational background

Eliécer Cárdenas Espinosa, the second of nine children born to Soledad Espinoza, a teacher, and Arturo Cárdenas, a public employee, had a diverse educational journey. He initially learned the basics from his mother and then attended the Escuela Borja, run by the Jesuits. His secondary education took place at the Colegio Universitario Fray Vicente Solano and the Colegio Borja. During his youth, he actively participated in rallies organized by the Juventudes Socialistas, advocating for free enrollment in universities and protesting against the Ministry of Education. Unfortunately, his activism led to his arrest and imprisonment in 1970 during the dictatorship of José María Velasco Ibarra. In 1972, Eliécer traveled to Quito and enrolled in the Faculty of Law at the Central University of Ecuador, where he pursued his legal studies.

Awards snd recognitions

  • 1978: House of Ecuadorian Culture Prize for Writers Under 40 for the novel “Polvo y ceniza”
  • 1987: Aurelio Espinosa Pólit Prize for the play “Morir en Vilcabamba”
  • In May 1991, Eliecer Cardenas Espinosa was elected president of the Casa de la Cultura, Núcleo del Azuay.
  • 1991: Third Prize in the National Biennial Novel Contest with his sixth novel titled “Que te perdone el viento”
  • 1997: Best Novel Prize from “El Universo” Newspaper for the novel “Una silla para Dios”
  • 2004: Premio Joaquín Gallegos Lara for the short story collection “Relatos del día libre”
  • 2016: Incorporation as a corresponding member of the Ecuadorian Academy of Language
  • Recognition as a member of the House of Ecuadorian Culture


Eliécer Cárdenas Espinosa passed away on September 26, 2021, due to a heart attack. He is survived by his widow, Carmen Patiño Ullauri.

Eliecer Cardenas interviewed on La Caja de Pandora

The show La Caja de Pandora is part interview and part documentary. Circa 2009-2016.

A documentary about Eliecer Cardenas’s famous novel Polvo y ceniza

Produced by Dirección de Cultura Universidad de Cuenca

An interview with ELIÉCER CÁRDENAS

Year unknown. Circa 2010-2017

Partial list of works


  • Juego de Mártires (1976)
  • Polvo y ceniza (1979) House of Ecuadorian Culture Prize for Writers Under 40.
  • Del silencio profundo (1980)
  • Siempre se mira el cielo (1985)
  • Las Humanas Certezas (1986)
  • Los diamantes y los hombres de provecho (1989)
  • Diario de un idólatra (1990)
  • Una silla para Dios : (novela) (1997) “El Universo” Newspaper’s Best Novel Prize
  • El oscuro final del Porvenir (2000)
  • Las innumerables tribus de los muertos: novela (2004)
  • El viaje de Padre Trinidad (2005)
  • Raffles manos de seda: (la leyenda de unbandido): novela (2008)
  • El árbol de los quemados: novela (2008)
  • La extraña dama inglesa: novela de misterio (2009)
  • El pinar de Segismundo (2013)
  • El héroe del brazo inerte (2013)
  • El enigma de la foto partida: (novela) (2013)
  • Las antiguas mañanas (2015)
  • Cabalgata Nocturna (2016)
  • Amigos en apuros (2018)



  • Guerra y paz en Paquisha (1981)



  • Háblanos, Bolívar (1983)
  • Del silencio profundo (1986)

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