Nelson Estupiñán Bass was an Ecuadorian novelist, short story writer, poet, essayist, journalist and diplomat. He was born in Sua, a city in the predominantly Afro-Ecuadorian province of Esmeraldas on September 19, 1912. He served as the president of the Esmeraldas chapter of the House of Ecuadorian Culture. While giving a series of lectures in 2002 at Penn State University Bass became ill with pneumonia and succumbed to the deadly illness at the Hershey Medical Center on March 3, 2002. Bass is remembered as one of Ecuador’s most prolific Afro-Latin American writers and represents a South American expression of the African Diaspora. His first novel Cuando los guayacanes florecían (1954; translated into English as When the Guayacans Were in Bloom, 1987) is widely read in Ecuador and Latin America, and has been translated into English, German, French and Russian. In 1993 Bass received Ecuador’s highest literary honor, the Eugenio Espejo Award. In 1998, Estupiñán Bass was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Bass’ first wife was Julia Elena Ortiz. In 1962 he married Luz Argentina Chiriboga, who later also became a prominent author of Afro-Ecuadorian literature, and a feminist icon.
- Cuando los guayacanes florecían (Quito, 1954) – translated into English by Henry J. Richards as When the Guayacans Were in Bloom (1987).
- El paraíso (Quito, 1958)
- El último río (Quito, 1966) – translated into English by Ian Isidore Smart as Pastrana’s Last River (1993).
- Senderos brillantes (Quito, 1974)
- Las puertas del verano (Quito, 1978)
- Toque de queda (Guayaquil, 1978)
- Bajo el cielo nublado (Quito, 1981)
- Los canarios pintaron el aire amarillo (1993)
- Al norte de Dios (Quito, 1994) – translated into English by Henry J. Richards as The Other Son of God (2013).
- Canto negro por la luz (Quito, 1956)
- Timarán y cuabú (Quito, 1956)
- Las huellas digitales (Quito, 1971)
- Las tres carabelas (Portoviejo, 1973)
- negra bullanguera (1980)
- El desempate: poesia popular (1980)
Essays and criticism
- Luces que titilan: guía de la vieja Esmeraldas (Esmeraldas, 1977)
- Viaje alrededor de la poesía negra (Quito, 1982)
- Desde un balcón volado (Quito, 1992)
- El Crepúsculo (1983)