While in the headquarters of Editorial Salamandra the printers work double shifts to launch the, until now, meager bibliography of Abdulrazak Gurnah to the market as soon as possible, it is worth fantasizing about when Colombia will win its second Nobel Prize in Literature. Our next laureate may already be among us, maybe he hasn’t published anything yet, maybe he’s writing these lyrics, who knows. What we do know, thanks to the declassification of the minutes of the Swedish Academy that occurs after 50 years of each deliberation, is that we were very close to achieving it with Germán Pardo García and not once but four times. The mention of this Ibaguerean poet born 25 years before García Márquez may not say anything to most, but at number 4 Källargränd Street in Stockholm they will remember him forever with his name written in gold letters.
His epic towards immortality began in 1967, when Professor James Willis Cobb of the University of Washington nominated him to be part of the exquisite group of 70 finalists for the Nobel Prize in Literature that the Guatemalan Miguel Ángel Asturias would end up with. Although in that debut his possibilities were reduced because in 1966 the lyrical genre had exchanged an award for Nelly Sach, Pardo García had established himself in the elite and competed head-to-head against uncrowned titans such as Yukio Mishima, JRR Tolkien, Graham Greene, Jorge Luis Borges or André Malraux and future winners such as Samuel Beckett, Yasunari Kawabata or Saul Bellow.
Coincidentally, it would be Yasunari Kawabata who would snatch the glory from him in 1968, a year in which the support of Professor Kurt Levy of the University of Toronto was openly added. Pardo García would come to this election with his best endorsements, but the irruption in the list of colossi such as Vladimir Nabokov and the future winners, Pablo Neruda and Heinrich Böll, would cause his candidacy to slowly lose steam. The wear and tear would be noticed in 1969 when it would lose one of its nominers and be shipwrecked among the 103 pens that flooded the pools.
In 1970, the surprising Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn would restore our faith, as as a European prose writer he paved the way for the 1971 prize to be awarded to a poet from the American continent. And so it was, but not to Pardo García, but to Pablo Neruda, in an act that will be revealed this year and that undoubtedly meant the end of the road for our man. His four nominations seat him at the table with Ernest Hemingway, HG Wells and Ivo Andric (4), leave him one step below León Tolstói or Benito Pérez Galdós (5) and elevate him above Simone de Beauvoir (2), Alejo Carpentier (3), José Ortega y Gasset (2), Miguel Unamuno (2) and so many fleeting authors who succumbed in the storm of the competition.
With all this, the work of Germán Pardo García is almost impossible to achieve today and this says a lot about the way in which we unjustly cast our literary heroes into oblivion.
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The nobel who almost was