By Tom Larsen
The fascinating life of Aquiles Jimbo Córdova began in the small town of San Juan de Pózul in Loja Province, twenty kilometers from the border with Perú. Señor Jimbo was interested in writing and literature from a very young age. His parents were constantly reading together, and the love and intimacy that he saw between them left an indelible impression upon him.
He believes that to write well you must first read. “I love reading,” he says. “I take my time to read the books well.”
Señor Jimbo entered the Ecuadorian army right out of high school. As one of seven children, he knew there was no money for university. All through his childhood he and his family had been in the center of the numerous border disputes with Perú, and he was always impressed by the discipline and dignified bearing of the Ecuadorian Army troops that he encountered.
His army career took him to the far reaches of his native country, and he ultimately reached the rank of Colonel. He was an active participant in the armed border disputes with Perú in 1981 and 1995.
Throughout his thirty-three years of service to his country, his love of reading and writing never diminished. Upon his retirement, he settled in Cuenca and devoted his life to reading, writing and music.
I had the pleasure of meeting the retired colonel through my membership in the “Cuenca Expats Book Club” under the tutelage of my friend J.T. Neira. During my three years with the club we have read approximately fifteen books, fiction as well as non-fiction, all in Spanish and all dealing with the history of Ecuador, and predominately Cuenca.
I often thought while reading these books what a shame it was that these wonderful authors didn’t have wider audience for their work. Never did that thought hit me more powerfully than when we read “El Retorno” (“The Return”) Señor Jimbo’s debut novel. When the author joined us for the last week in the series, I approached him with the idea of doing an English language translation. He readily agreed and was exceedingly gracious and helpful throughout the project.
Señor Jimbo continues to be an active participant in Cuenca’s literary scene. He is currently a member of the Azuay Nucleus of the Ecuadorian House of Culture; Vice President of the Academic Society of Modern Literature and History, partner of the cultural group “Casa Tomada” and partner of the Cultural Group “General Moisés Oliva.” Above all, he continues to read and to write.
“Reading is knowledge, and knowledge is power, it is development, knowledge is freedom,” he says.
Why I love “El Retorno” (and why I think you will too):
“El Retorno” is an extremely powerful novel, set in southern Ecuador in the mid-twentieth century, chronicling the life of José Alfredo Sánchez and his family. Driven from ‘La Esperanza’ their ancestral hacienda in the countryside outside of Loja, they are forced to join the thousands of others displaced by greed, constant tensions at the border with Perú, and floods triggered by the massive deforestation that took place in that era.
It is the story of migrants throughout the ages and in all parts of the world. They endure poverty, violence and discrimination wherever they go. Through it all, the only glimmer of hope they have is that one day they will be able to return to their beloved home.
Please Join Us (Shameless Plug):
Friday August 30 at 10:00 a.m. in the auditorium of the Escuela Central (Museo de la Ciudad) Gran Colombia y Benigno Malo. The Dirección General de Cultura, Recreación y Conocimiento will host a book launch for the English language translation of “El Retorno.” The event is free, and signed copies of the books (English and Spanish) will be available for purchase. Wine and light snacks will be served.
Other works by Aquiles Jimbo Córdova:
Sparks of Intimacy (poems, 1996)
The Offended Neighborhood (essay, 1997)
The Skin of the Trails (poems, 2009)
Farther from the Border (novel, 2017)
He is currently at work on “Animal Perro” (a novel) and “Evocations” (short stories).
Tom Larsen is an expat author who has lived in Cuenca for the past five years. “El Retorno” is his second translation project and one that he is extremely proud of. Tom’s latest short mystery “Aliento del Diablo” can be read in the September/October 2109 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.