© Ariel Urquiza
Ariel Urquiza was born in Argentina in 1972. He studied Journalism and works as an English-Spanish translator. In 2013, his novel Ya pueden encender las luces was shortlisted for the Eugenio Cambaceres Prize of the National Library (Argentina). In 2016, his short-story book No hay risas en el cielo (presented as Ni una sola voz en el cielo) won the Casa de las Américas Prize. He has various short stories published in anthologies and magazines.
The characters in No hay risas en el cielo (“There's no Laughter in the Sky”) move in different circles in the drug scene between Argentina and Mexico. A microcosm is created which inevitably casts a spell on the reader.
There is the young Jonathan, who supplies a party organiser in Mexico with coke. As one of the guests slips the cocaine to the ground, he cannot control himself. His mother had carried the substance as a "mule" and died of a ruptured packet. In order not to be not killed by the drug cartel for which his mother worked, Jonathan is forced to open her body and remove the goods.
The boundary between perpetrators and victims is sometimes rather fluid. The head of the largest drug cartel, called Murciélago, meaning bat, is blind. One night he senses that someone is watching him. In his immediate vicinity, a mobile phone rings. When Murciélago the next day hears the same ringtone coming from one of his men, he gives orders to kill him. Too bad that the day after the ringtone sounds again from another employee.
The stories each have their own plot and yet are intertwined. No hay risas en el cielo is the brilliant debut of Ariel Urquiza, whose talent is obvious and who in 2016 deservedly won the prestigious Casa de las Américas prize.
In the work by Urquiza, the jury highlighted his narrative talent in stories ranging from Buenos Aires to Mexico City, taking account of the speech and the atmosphere of each place, with great virtuosity in dialogues and plots that address some of the most pressing problems of Latin America.
Casa de las Amércias Prize
Eduardo Lalo, jury member of the Casa de las Américas Prize:
You wrote a great book, of tremendous strength and sensitivity, whose sheer quality differentiates it from the great mass of books on drug trafficking and related topics.
No hay risas en el cielo
Buenos Aires: Corregidor 2016, 130 p.
Havanna: Casa de las Américas 2017, 160 p.
Prémio Casa de las Américas
Excerpt “El camino sin orillas” published in Pagina12
Ya pueden encender las luces
Buenos Aires: Corregidor 2019, 154 p.
San Isidro: Municipalidad de San Isidro 2013
Premio Municipal de Literatura 2013 Manuel Mujica Láinez
Published in Perfil 2014
Participation in anthologies
Germen. Autores germinan autores. Antología de cuentos
(“Cuando me tape el silencio”, excerpt from " No hay risas en el cielo")
Argentina: Alto Pogo Ediciones 2016
Antología del cuento argentino
Edited, selected, and with a prologue by Sylvia Iparraguirre
Argentina: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto de Argentina 2010