Luis Rafael Sánchez

Luis Rafael Sánchez

Puerto Rican writer recognized as part of the 1960s generation. He is one of the most prolific and outstanding contemporary writers of Puerto Rico, his work covers various literary genres, including essays, short stories, novels and drama.

Luis Rafael Sánchez Ortiz was born in the city of Humacao on November 17, 1936, and began his education there. After his family moved to San Juan, he continued his studies at the Román Baldorioty de Castro School and Central High School.

In 1956, he enrolled in the Drama Department at the University of Puerto Rico. While he was a student, he presented his first dramatic work, titled La espera, at the UPR Experimental Theater. That work brought him his first artistic recognition in Puerto Rican theater. Another of his most successful works was Quíntuples, which mixed drama with improvisation. His theatrical works not only contributed to enriching the Puerto Rican theatrical culture, but were also presented in other countries, such as the United States, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Venezuela and Germany, among others. He also continuously published essays in Puerto Rican newspapers such as El Nuevo Día, Claridad and El Mundo, as well as in international publications.

Sánchez is known for developing stories and characters that represent urban people marginalized due to prostitution, homosexuality or drug addiction, as in En cuerpo de camisa (1966), for example.

He developed a style that addressed social issues such as urban marginalization due to prostitution, homosexuality, and drug addiction in stories such as En cuerpo de camisa (1966), for example. This work won various prizes for the way in which it tried to tell the story of the Puerto Rico underclass of that era, which was not generally represented as a main theme in the world of literature. In his stories, Sánchez tapped the richness of the Puerto Rican urban underclass vocabulary and gave it a place in the island’s literature. He also experimented with the novel. One of his most widely known and cited works is La guaracha de Macho Camacho (1976), a novel that has been translated into English, French and Portuguese. It is a widely studied work because its plot reflects the social chaos of Puerto Rico in the form of confrontation between the underclass and authority. Another of his most representative novels is La importancia de llamarse Daniel Santos (1998), in which he extols the boleros of Daniel Santos, one of the most popular musical genres in Latin America and one of the most internationally recognized Puerto Rican performers in the genre. The book tells of the singer’s life, his achievements and experiences that others shared with the artist, both in Puerto Rico and beyond.

Sánchez has won national and international awards and recognition and has received two honorary doctoral degrees, from the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo and the University of Turabo. He has received several grants in the United States and a theater hall in Hartford, Connecticut, was named in his honor. He has presented speeches in Latin America, the United States and Europe.

Author: Christian D. Camacho Castro
Published: September 17, 2014.

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