Haroldo Conti

Conti became a secondary-school teacher of Latin, but his passion was for writing, especially for the cinema, and considered putting aside fiction for this at one stage; South-East was first conceived as a cinematic script, and film directors have brought other of his literary work to the screen, taking advantage of its preference for visual strength in the narrative.Each of Conti’s four novels was awarded a literary prize, culminating in the prestigious Casa de las Américas prize for his last novel, Mascaró, el cazador americano [Mascaró, the American Hunter] (1975). To date, only South-East appears in English translation. Conti also wrote short stories.Politics forces its way into the story of Conti’s life, but his political instinct was an expression of his interest in ordinary folk: to men as individuals, not to man in the abstract. Conti’s interest in the lives of others wasn’t merely intellectual: he became a keen fisherman, and decided to build a boat; he spent a lot of time with an otter-hunter at one point – and all of this investigation went into his writing, of which South-East was the first important published expression.Political repression in Argentina intensified following the military coup of March 1976, and Conti was warned by someone with links to the military that his life was in danger. But he decided against exile, and offered his home in the capital as a place of refuge for others under threat of kidnap and murder. Until he was taken from the streets in the early hours of May 5 1976, and is since then listed amongst the many thousands of the "disappeared".
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