Writer Luis Sepúlveda dies at age 70 due to coronavirus

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Chilean writer, screenwriter and film director Luis Sepúlveda died this Thursday at the age of 70 in a hospital in Oviedo in which he had been admitted in serious condition since February 29 due to pneumonia associated with coronavirus, Efe has informed a spokesman for the family.

Sepúlveda (Ovalle, Chile, 1949), was the first patient diagnosed with COVID-19 in Asturias and he had been admitted to the Central University Hospital of Asturias (HUCA) in Oviedo for 48 days, most of them connected to a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit, where he died at 10:18 am.

The state of health of the author of ‘An old man who read love novels’ it had been deteriorating in recent weeks as it did not respond to successive treatments or antibiotics and had added other pathologies and problems associated with different vital organs to initial pneumonia, health sources told Efe.

The family has released a statement, signed by his wife Carmen Yáñez and his eldest son, Carlos, in which he thanks “wholeheartedly” to the HUCA medical-health team “for their great professionalism and dedication”, as well as “samples of love received during these days. “

Sepúlveda started feeling bad on February 25, two days after having attended the literary festival Correntes dÉscritas, held in Póvoa de Varzim, in the north of Portugal, in which a hundred speakers from different countries participated, none of them considered at risk due to the incidence of the coronavirus.

After being diagnosed with pneumonia in a private center and testing positive for the Covid-19, Sepúlveda was transferred to a HUCA isolation zone on February 29 along with his wife, the poet Carmen Yáñez, who also presented a feverish painting.

The writer thus became the first case of coronavirus detected in Asturias and one of the first registered in the whole country, although the Epidemiological Surveillance Service could not determine where it could be spread since no other participant in the Portuguese literary festival was affected by the coronavirus.

His wife was also admitted to the same hospital center until March 18 with symptoms associated with the coronavirus that were not serious, although the tests were negative.

Sepúlveda, who became internationally known in 1988 with the publication of ‘An old man who read love novels’, has lived since 1997 in Gijón, a city where he was well known for having promoted and directed, among other projects, the Salón del Iberoamerican book.

Communist militant, Sepúlveda had been forced to leave his native Chile in 1977, after being retaliated by the dictatorial regime of Augusto Pinochet and seeing a sentence of 28 years in prison commuted to another eight years in exile.

Son of Basque mother and father from JaénSepúlveda traveled through countries such as Nicaragua and Sweden before settling in Hamburg (Germany), the city where he worked as a press correspondent and wrote stories, theater and some novels.

In 1988 he published ‘An old man who read love novels’, a novel written as an adventure book and awarded with the Tigre Juan and Relais awards that it would eventually become a must-read book in institutes and universities and that it has been translated into twenty languages.

This acclaimed novel was followed by others such as’ Mundo del fin del mundo ‘,’ Nombre de torero ‘,’ Patagonia Express’, ‘Story of a seagull and the cat that taught her to fly’, ‘La rosa de Atacama’ or ‘Fin of century ‘.

In 2000 he made a small foray into cinema by intervening as an actor in the Italian film ‘Naked forever’ and a year later he debuted as a director with the film ‘Nowhere’, a Spanish, Italian and Argentine co-production, of which he also wrote the script and in which he ironically narrates the tragedy of political prisoners in Latin American dictatorships.

An unrepentant traveler, Sepúlveda is considered a member of the group of Latin American writers after the “boom” of magical realism, and received awards such as the Gabriela Mistral Poetry Prize, 1976; Rómulo Gallegos (1978), the “Superflainao” narrative prize, 1993 or the Ovidio Prize awarded in 1998 in Italy for “The Last Frontier”.

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