Enrique Gil Gilbert

Enrique Gil Gilbert

Enrique Gil Gilbert was an Ecuadorian novelist, short story writer, nonfiction writer, politician and teacher. He was born in Guayaquil Ecuador on July 8, 1912 and died in the same city on February 21, 1973. He was the youngest member of the “Guayaquil Group,” a group of realist writers of the 1930s Ecuador. At only eighteen years of age he co-wrote Los que se van, cuentos del cholo y del motuvio (1930) with Demetrio Aguilera Malta and Joaquín Gallegos Lara – a book which marked the beginning of literary realism in Ecuador.

The Guayaquil Group

“The Guayaquil Group” was a group of five writers in the 1930s, united by the same social and political ideology, who used literary realism to write about coastal peasants, the working class, and indigenous cultures of Ecuador. Members of this group included Enrique Gil Gilbert, Demetrio Aguilera Malta, Joaquín Gallegos Lara, Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco and José de la Cuadra.

“Cinco como un puño” (Five as a fist) Monument representing the “Guayaquil Group” in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Political life

Central command of the Communist Party of Ecuador circa 1954. Standing from left to right: Rafael Echeverria, Ernesto Endara, Jose M. Roura, N. Barba, Aquilles Valencia, Tirso Gomez, Gustavo Becerra, the novelist Enrique Gil Gilbert.

Enrique Gil Gilbert was a high ranking member of the communist party of Ecuador, for which he was imprisoned during the military junta of 1963, during which time law enforcement ransacked his home and destroyed many of his unpublished manuscripts – literary works that were lost forever.

Personal life

In 1933 fellow writer Demetrio Aguilera Malta introduced Gil to the painter Alba Calderón (1908-1992), who is best known for her 1939 painting Coffee Pickers. In 1934 they got married; they had 2 sons: Enrique Gil Calderón and Antonio Gil Calderon.

An image from September, 1931 of Enrique Gil Gilbert (top left) and wife Alba Calderón (bottom left) and friend and fellow writer Joaquín Gallegos Lara (center above woman) on a trip to Chojampe.

Works

Novel

Enrique Gil Gilbert published his only novel Nuestro pan (1942) in Guayaquil. It was translated into English by Dudley Poore and published in New York by Farrar & Rinehart as Our Daily Bread (1943). Read the original Spanish edition for free here.

OUR DAILY BREAD. By Enrique Gil Gilbert. Translated by Dudley Poore.

…From the start, the jungle absorbs the characters, breeding all deeds and presiding over them. The book [Our Daily Bread] grows out of it – like a fern, like a canoe plying its river torrent. Señor Gilbert has written a novel with eyes turned upon the land, written it with eyes, ears, nose and mouth. When you finish his book you will have smelled and tasted Ecuador, stroked the soft pile of the Ecuadorian night and felt its tropic texture…The vigor of this book is fundamental. The special enchantment of its background gives it a startling beauty and a spiritual meaning all its own.

Eudora Welty in “Exotic, from Ecuador” in The Latest Works of Fiction section of The New York Times, July 18, 1943.

Short Stories

  • Los que se van (Guayaquil, 1930)
  • Yunga (Guayaquil, 1933)
  • Relatos de Emanuel (Guayaquil, 1939), read it for free here.
  • La cabeza de un niño en un tacho de basura (Guayaquil, 1967).

Collections

  • El nuevo relato ecuatoriano (Quito, 1951)
  • Antología del cuento hispanoamericano contenporáneo (1958)
  • El cuento hispanoamericano (México, 1964)
  • Antología del relato ecuatoriano (Quito, 1973)
  • Cuento de la generación de los 30 (Guayaquil, s.f)
  • Así en la tierra como en los sueños (Quito, 1991)
  • Cuento contigo (Guayaquil, 1993)
  • Antología básica del cuento ecuatoriano (Quito, 1998).

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