Michel Butor (1926-2016) and Ignacio Padilla (1968-2016)


We are sad to announce the recent deaths of the esteemed authors Michel Butor and Ignacio Padilla.

Michel Butor was born September 14th, 1926 near Lille in northern France. He studied philosophy and literature at the Sorbonne before traveling around the world to teach in places such as Egypt, the U.K., Greece, the United States and Geneva. Butor eventually returned to Paris in 1958, where he built his reputation as a major experimental writer while continuing to teach at the University of Nice and the University of Geneva. Butor passed away on August 24th, 2016 at the Contamine-sur-Arve hospital in western France.

Butor wrote over a dozen works of fiction, poetry and criticism in his lifetime. His writing is characterized at some times by rigorous symmetry—Roland Barthes praised Butor as a great structuralist—and in others by humor and absurdity. Butor has been awarded the Prix Fénéon, the Prix Renaudot, and the Mallarmé Prize for his work.

In a 1985 interview for the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Butor said:

“I know why I write: I have an indomitable urge, as if a voice dictated to me and then the text engenders itself. I should like to know the center . . . the voice. It may be God’s.”

Works by Michel Butor and published by Dalkey Archive Press include Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ape (1995), Mobile (2004) and Degrees (2005).

Ignacio Padilla was born November 7th, 1968 in Mexico City. He attended high school at Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa in Mbabane, Swaziland, but returned to Mexico for an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from the Ibero-American University. Padilla later received a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh and a Doctor of Philosophy in Hispanic-American literature from the University of Salamanca, Spain.

Padilla published his first book of stories Subterráneos (“Subways”) in 1989, which received the Alfonso Reyes Literary Award. Over the next few years Padilla received a number of awards across different genres, including the Juan de la Cabada Award for children’s stories, the Juan Rulfo Literary Award for Padilla’s first novel La catedral de los ahogados (“The Cathedral of the Drowned”), the Malcolm Lowry Award for a critical essay on Paul Bowles, and the Kalpa Award for Science Fiction for Padilla’s El año de los gatos amurallados (“The Year of the Walled Cats”).

In 1996, Padilla joined fellow writers Eloy Urroz, Jorge Volpi, Pedro Ángel Palou and Ricardo Chávez-Castañeda in composing the “Crack Manifesto,” a challenge to the accepted components of magical realism and an urge to return to the more complex writing of Borges and Cortázar.

Padilla died on August 20th 2016 in a car accident in Queretaro. His books Shadow Without a Name and Antipodes: Stories are both available in English translation from Picador.

Michel Butor and Ignacio Padilla will be missed. Our thoughts go out to their families and friends at this time, in remembrance.

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