Alvaro Mutis

“If one of the functions of great fiction is to teach us how to live, in his depictions of nature and his descriptions of Maqroll, Álvaro fulfills that duty, without precepts, certainly without dogma, but by sacralized, yet worldly, example."—Edith Grossman, "Confessions of an Unreconstructed Romantic" (WLT, Vol. 77, July 2003)

Álvaro Mutis (b. 1923) is a Colombian poet, novelist, and essayist. Though he was born in Colombia, he lived in Brussels until he was eleven years old. His first collection of poetry was published in 1948 and his first short stories appeared in 1978. Mutis is best known for his award-winning novellas published in the United States in two collections, Maqroll and The Adventures of Maqroll.

In his nominating statement for Mutis, Colombian poet Huan Gustavo Codo Barto said, "The Colombian Álvaro Mutis is, without doubt, a contemporary writer who possesses a cultural background sufficiently broad and universal to transcend languages and borders." (WLT Vol. 77, July 2003)

Mutis's body of work includes La Nieve del Almirant (1986; tr. The Snow of the Admiral, 1995), Ilona llega con la lluvia (1987; tr. llona Comes with the Rain, 1995), La ultima escala del Tramp Steamer (1989; tr. The Tramp Steamer's Last Port of Call, 1995), and Abdul Bashur, sonador de navios (1991; tr. Abdul Bashur, Dreamer of Ships, 1995). His most famous piece is Empresas y Tribulaciones de Maqroll el Gaviero (tr. The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll), consisting of seven novellas.

2002 Neustadt Jurors and Finalists


Evelyne Accad (Lebanon/United States) Andrée Chedid (Egypt/France)
Kwame Anthony Appiah (United States) Antonio Lobo Antunes (Portugal)
Juan Gustavo Cobo Borda (Colombia) Alvaro Mutis (Colombia)
Lorna Goodison (Jamaica) Wilson Harris (Guyana)
Thomas King (Canada) Eduardo Galeano (Uruguay)
Bill Manhire (New Zealand) Janet Frame (New Zealand)
Rainer Schulte (Germany/United States) Homero Aridjis (Mexico)
Moacyr Scliar (Brazil) Luis Fernando Verissimo (Brazil)
Barry Unsworth (England) Peter Matthiessen (United States)
Jane Urquhart (Canada) Mavis Gallant (Canada/France)