Off-Screen
From his lonely watch post Albert Camus asked who among us has not experienced exile yet still managed to preserve a spark of fire in their soul. "We're all alone," Natalia Sedova cried in exile on hearing of her husband Leon Trotsky's affair with Frida Kahlo. In his novel Night Watch, Stephen Koch follows the incestuous love affair of David and Harriet, wealthy siblings watching the world from their solitary exile. Koch's writing, Camus's theories, and Trotsky's affair all come back to exile and lead me to reflect on the human condition. From my own vantage point, my Night Watch, I will reflect on my questions of exile, writing, and the human condition.
Israel Centeno was born in 1958 in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in Pittsburgh as a Writer-in-Residence with City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. He writes both novels and short stories, and also works as an editor and professor of literature. He has published nine books in Venezuela and three in Spain.
  • Venezuela Protests February 2014
    The Legacy

    This week Israel Centeno writes about the protests sweeping Venezuela, Maduro’s reaction, and how Chávez’s presidency sowed the seeds for the current environment of hate and violence.

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  • Gods of the Modern World
    Ungovernable for Us: Part III

    The conclusion to Israel Centeno’s three-part series on the roots of violence in Latin America. In this final installment Centeno discusses how “distorted legends of heroism” and nationalism cover and cause the region’s inextricable cycle of revolt and “the prevalence of violence in all spaces.”

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  • Vuelvan Caras Venezuela War of Independence
    Ungovernable for Us: Part II

    A history of violence in Venezuela—bloodshed and cruelty, past and present. Venezuelan writer Israel Centeno continues his three part series exploring the roots of violence in Latin America, this week Centeno examines the Venezuelan War of Independence and ensuing civil war.

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  • Gun Violence Sign
    Ungovernable for Us: Part One

    ‘Violence unites us.’ In this week’s column Venezuelan writer Israel Centeno begins a three part series exploring the roots of violence in Latin America through its tumultuous history, important figures, and rich literature.

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  • Stefan Zweig
    The World of Yesterday

    “In one way or another, we’ve all been expelled from previous states and no one leaves their space without being condemned to diaspora.” Venezuelan author Israel Centeno on exile, refuge, and life on the outside.

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  • airplane
    Departure

    “Despite all sense of belonging and nationality, nobody can make you stay in a place that is dangerous and unfavorable to you.” Exiled writer Israel Centeno on the power of leaving and the pain of leaving Venezuela.

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  • Saskatchewan Crossing
    Saskatchewan

    “Expatriation—waking up one morning startled by agoraphobia, sentenced and expelled with no possibility of return—has another name and, why not, another destination: Saskatchewan.” Israel Centeno on Richard Ford’s novel, Canada.

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  • Fernando Pessoa Collage
    Saudade, Hiraeth, and Hüzün

    Writer Israel Centeno’s ‘search to ascribe a tangible meaning to the oblique feeling that goes above and beyond simple nostalgia’ has led him to a close reading of Fernando Pessoa’s works and the stories of Venezuelan writer Enza García Arreaza.

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  • Hiraeth and Black Sand
    Black Sand and Hiraeth

    Continuing with his discussion on exile, writer Israel Centeno offers an examination of the word “hiraeth” – “that unattainable yearning felt for a person, figure, or even nation that probably never existed” – and a reading of Black Sand, a novel by Venezuelan author Juan Carlos Méndez Guedéz.

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Fearless, Ink.