Rafael Díaz Ycaza

Rafael Díaz Ycaza

Rafael Díaz Ycaza (Guayaquil, October 28, 1925 – August 28, 2013) was a poet, novelist, short story writer and columnist. His notable works include poetry collections such as “Statues at Sea” (1946), “Botella al Mar” (1964), and “Zona Prohibida” (1972), each resonating with his lyrical style and profound imagery. Among his novels are “Los Rostros del Miedo” (1962) and “Los Prisioneros de la Noche” (1967). Beyond his literary achievements, Díaz Ycaza was honored with various awards and recognitions, including the Aurelio Espinosa Pólit Prize (1985)” and the “José de la Cuadra National Short Story Prize (1967). In 2011, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa awarded Díaz with the the nation’s highest literary distinction, the Eugenio Espejo National Prize, for his lifetime of literary work.

“His book [Zona prohibida] was like a bible for the youth of my generation, especially for its social poetry.”

Sonia Manzano (Poet) – quoted in “Rafael Díaz Ycaza, el hombre que dedica su vida a las letras,” El UNIVERSO, Sept 2, 2011.

Early Life and Education

Rafael Díaz Ycaza, born on October 28, 1925, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, was raised by his parents, María Ycaza and Rafael Díaz Cueva. His mother, María, was a teacher herself, instilling in him a profound respect for education and knowledge. In the picturesque city of Riobamba, Rafael embarked on his educational journey at the Escuela Salesiana Santo Tomás Apóstol. It was here, under the guidance of dedicated educators, that Rafael’s innate curiosity and love for literature began to take root. With the support of his family, Rafael returned to Guayaquil, where he continued his schooling at the prestigious Colegio Nacional Vicente Rocafuerte.

Literary Career

Díaz Ycaza’s literary journey commenced with the publication of his debut work, “Statues at Sea” in 1946. He continued to captivate readers with subsequent works such as “Botella al Mar” (1964) and “Zona Prohibida” (1972). His poetry and prose often delved into themes of love, identity, and societal dynamics, showcasing his keen understanding of the human condition.

Eugenio Espejo Prize

In 2011, Rafael Díaz Ycaza was honored with the prestigious Eugenio Espejo National Prize, the highest literary honor in Ecuador. This recognition underscored his significant contributions to Ecuadorian literature and solidified his legacy as one of the nation’s literary giants.

Awards and Recognitions

Throughout his career, Díaz Ycaza received numerous awards and accolades, including the Premio Aurelio Espinosa Pólit (1985) and the Premio Nacional de Cuentos José de la Cuadra (1967). His international acclaim was further underscored by awards from esteemed institutions such as the Academy of Castilian Letters in Santiago, Chile, and the U.F.I.A. in Mexico.

Groups He Belonged To

Rafael Díaz Ycaza was associated with the “Madrugada” literary group, a collective of writers who made significant contributions to Ecuadorian literature in the mid-20th century. Additionally, he served as President of the Committee of Ecuadorian Writers for Peace, further demonstrating his commitment to literature and social change.

He served twice as president of the House of Ecuadorian Culture, Guayas Nucleus, where he created and directed the magazine “Letters of Ecuador.”

Work as a Journalist

In addition to his literary pursuits, Díaz Ycaza made substantial contributions to journalism as an editorialist for the renowned newspaper El Universo in Guayaquil. His insightful commentary and keen observations on social and political issues enriched public discourse and further underscored his multifaceted talent and intellectual depth.


Rafael Díaz Ycaza passed away on August 26, 2013, in Guayaquil at the age of eighty-seven. He was laid to rest in the Cementerio General after a wake at the Núcleo del Guayas of the House of Ecuadorian Culture.


  • The “Premio Eugenio Espejo” National Award in Literature (2011)
  • The “Aurelio Espinoza Pólit” National Award (1985)
  • The “José de la Cuadra” Short Story Award (1967)
  • The “Medardo Ángel Silva” National Poetry Award (1969)
  • The “Ismael Pérez Pazmiño” Award (1974)
  • The “Carlos Zevallos Menéndez” Medal



  • Estatuas en el mar (1946)
  • Cuaderno de bitácora (1949)
  • Las llaves de aquel país (1954)
  • El regreso y los sueños (1959)
  • Botella al mar (1965)
  • Zona prohibida (1972)
  • Señas y contraseñas -antología- (Guayaquil, 1978)
  • Mareas altas: canciones y elegías (Guayaquil, 1993)


  • Los rostros del miedo (Guayaquil, 1962)
  • Los prisioneros de la noche (Quito, 1967)

Short Stories

  • Las fieras (Guayaquil, 1952)
  • Los ángeles errantes (Guayaquil, 1958)
  • Tierna y violentamente (Guayaquil, 1970)
  • Porlamar (Guayaquil, 1977)
  • Porlatierra (Quito, 1978)
  • Prometeo el joven y otras morisquetas (Quito, 1986)
  • Consta en las antologías: El nuevo relato ecuatoriano (Quito, 1951)
  • Pensamiento y literatura del Ecuador: crítica y antología (Quito, 1972)
  • Antología del relato ecuatoriano (Quito, 1973)
  • Cuento ecuatoriano contemporáneo (s.f.);
  • Madrugada: una antología de la poesía ecuatoriana (Guayaquil, 1976)
  • Lírica ecuatoriana contemporánea (Bogotá, 1979)
  • Poesía viva del Ecuador (Quito, 1990)
  • La palabra perdurable (Quito, 1991)
  • Así en la tierra como en los sueños (Quito, 1991)
  • Cuento contigo (Guayaquil, 1993)
  • Antología básica del cuento ecuatoriano (Quito, 1998)
  • Cuento ecuatoriano de finales del siglos XX (Quito, 1999).

Other posts about Rafael Díaz Ycaza

Audio Recording: Ecuadorian poet and novelist Rafael Díaz Ycaza reading from his poetry and prose

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