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.
  • 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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  • Aleph
    Notes on Leaving

    “When you face up to those in power you always do it from the periphery, whether you are in a neighborhood in Maracaibo, a housing estate in Valencia, a university in Caracas, or in any other part of the world.” Venezuelan writer Israel Centeno on exile and the ongoing struggle with having left.

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  • Student Protest
    Existential Exile

    “My exile began long ago, before I left Venezuela.” Author Israel Centeno – former City of Asylum Pittsburgh exiled writer-in-residence – on how the extreme political polarization and violence that swept through the country in recent years has torn apart relationships and his beloved Caracas.

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