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.
  • Venezuelan flag
    Venezuela Express

    In this week’s Night Watch Venezuelan writer Israel Centeno traces the history of violence in Venezuela from the turn of the 20th century up to the present. “Venezuela is a cocktail of poverty, injustice, resentment, a rentier mentality, and clientelistic wealth.”

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  • Isaak Babel prison mugshot
    Let Me Finish

    In this week’s “Nightwatch” Venezuelan writer Israel Centeno uses executed Russian writer Isaak Babel as a jumping off point to explore humanity’s long, complex relationship with Paradise.

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  • Ouroboros
    The Snake That Bites its Own Tail

    In this week’s Night Watch column, writer Israel Centeno reflects on the transformation a true revolutionary undergoes once he attains power: he becomes an “agent of the new imposed order.” A contradiction only resolved by “totalitarian requisition.”

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  • Medanos de Coro
    The Wasteland

    “All displacement is natural until the ulterior motives of a government make it unnatural.” In this week’s Night Watch column, Venezuelan writer Israel Centeno reflects on the relationships between time, memory, and life in exile.

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  • Willi Munzenberg and Double Lives by Stephen Koch
    The Innocents’ Club

    Israel Centeno reviews Double Lives by Stephen Koch, which looks back at Willi Müzenberg and the Innocents’ Clubs of the early 20th century. Such groups of naïve left intellectual sympathizers of “good despots”, Centeno argues, still abound today.

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Fearless, Ink.