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In Memoriam: H.G. Carrillo

H.G. Carrillo In Memoriam graphic

If you are lucky—and only if you are very lucky—you will meet a writer like H.G. Carrillo, who will enter your life because of a series of happy accidents that placed you directly in his path. You will read a short story like “Leche,” published in 2002 that caused him to suddenly need an agent, or “Abejas Rubias,” the story he wrote to make visible the brilliant scientist he would eventually marry. Submitted to Nancy Zafris, then fiction editor of the Kenyon Review, which published it in 2004, the same year that his marvelous, moving novel, Loosing My Espanish, debuted. KR would publish him again four years later with “Co-Sleeper,” Zafris rightly praising the story for its “intellectual verve” and the author’s “willingness to be smart.”

If fortune smiled, you would have been witness to Carrillo’s largesse, his gentlemanly way with friends, students, fellow writers and teachers, even those who misspelled his name or expected the Cuban writer they’d invited to look more like Desi Arnaz. If you were truly born under a lucky star, he would make a flan for you, offer to play the piano for you, plant a tulip in your honor.

H.G. Carrillo—“Hache,” to those who knew him—died on April 20, 2020. He was the Chair of the Board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, a member of the Bread Loaf Writers Conference community and a dedicated writing teacher. Already a multi-talented prose writer, he had flourished under the mentorship of Helena María Viramontes and the Cornell University English Department MFA Program. Hache was a beloved and appreciated husband, brother, son, friend, teacher, student, and colleague. In a time when our world is diminished, we should be so lucky to still feel the beating heart of his humanity. It’s not too late to discover just how lucky. Go read him.

Read “Co-Sleeper” from the Winter 2008 issue of the Kenyon Review.