Francisco Porrúa, 92, editor-founder of the Minotauro science fiction press, one of the major SF collections and labels in Spanish language, with flagship titles like “The Lord of the Rings”, “The Martian Chronicles”, “The Demolished Man”, “The Left Hand of Darkness” or “Neuromancer”, died in Barcelona, on the 18th of December 2014.
Francisco Porrúa, one of the most important publishers of Latin American literature, died last Friday in Barcelona, victim of pneumonia.
Francisco Porrúa (born in Corcubión, La Coruña, 1922 – deceased in Barcelona, December 18, 2014), also known as Paco Porrúa, was a Spanish origin literary editor and translator with an additional Argentinian citizenship. He used several pseudonyms, for his translations as Luis Domenech, Ricardo Gosseyn, Francisco Abelenda or simply FA.
Francisco Porrúa published some of the most important literary works in spanish of the 20th Century as Rayuela (Hopscotch) by Julio Cortazar and Cien años de soledad, 1967 (One Hundred Years of Solitude) by Gabriel García Márquez. Francisco Porrúa founded Ediciones Minotauro (Minotaur Publishing Press, founded in 1956 in Argentina), also one of the leading publishers of science fiction in spanish language, editing for the first time in spanish books by Bradbury, Tolkien and Ballard, among others.
‘Discovered,’ edited and championed Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude)
Francisco “Paco” Porrúa (right) with Gabriel García Márquez (left)
Francisco “Paco” Porrúa, the literary translator and longtime editor at Buenos Aires’ publishing house Editorial Sudamericana, was vastly known as the man who salvaged Gabriel García Márquez’s immortal Cien años de soledad from almost inevitable oblivion and obscurity.
Porrúa will also be remembered as the man who helped establish the “magic realism” mania around the world at a time when no publisher would even consider it.
Julio Cortazar’s Rayuela (Hopscotch)
Born in Corcubión, Galicia, Spain in 1922, Porrúa, who migrated to Argentina and became a naturalized citizen, was also responsible for the publication of another emblematic, groundreaking piece of the “Latin American Boom”: ’s Rayuela (Hopscotch). In fact, Cortázar dedicated his short-term collection Todos los fuegos el fuego (All the Fires, the Fire) to Porrúa, whom he considered a friend and mentor.
Creating the Minotauro science fiction imprimatura in 1955, Porrúa also introduced outstanding fantasy literature writers like Ray Bradbury, Tolkien and J.G. Ballard to Argentine and Latin American readers.
Porrúa was also a pioneer in the field of historical novel, publishing the works of Robert Graves, Gore Vidal, and Marguerite Yourcenar, among many great practitioners of the genre.
Apart from his undeniable gift as a translator and his keen eye for extraordinary, even if unknown or too daring, literary gems, Porrúa will forever be remembered as the man who, running contrary to the opinion of other editors and publishers who easily dismissed it as far too imaginative, devoured and became fascinated with García Márquez’s unpublished manuscript. Such was the fascination that Porrúa wrote him an advance payment cheque of US$500, which in 1967 was a small fortune for the impoverished writer and his wife, both living in Mexico at the time.
The 500-plus page mammoth manuscript had been previously turned down by another editor who, in spite of his many accomplishments, spent the rest of his life regretting the one “make or break” decision that would have sealed his professional career.
Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude)
García Márquez was a struggling writer with four published books but without any massive, editorial or critical success when the idea for Cien años de soledad struck him while living in Mexico City in dire conditions with his wife Mercedes. García Márquez had not even heard of Porrúa when he mailed him half of the original manuscript from Mexico — the writer had to split the original in two parts because he lacked the money for international postage.
Not long thereafter, an ecstatic Porrúa got in contact with García Márquez to publish Cien años de soledad under the Editorial Sudamericana prestigious imprimatura, and also requested the publishing rights for García Márquez’s four other works. This was mission impossible, because the writer had signed long-term contracts with different publishers.
But Cien años de soledad alone was enough to launch one of the biggest phenomenons in international literature and to cement García Márquez’s status as one of the writers leading the so-called “Latin American boom” in fiction literature, along with Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa and other would-be prominent writers.