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September 13, 2001

Author and Playwright Mario Bencastro to Deliver Hispanic Heritage Month Keynote

Author and playwright Mario Bencastro will deliver the keynote address for the Library of Congress 2001 National Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration. The program will be given in English and begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26, in the Mumford Room, sixth floor of the Madison Building, 101 Independence S.E. The event is free and open to the public.

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the Library of Congress celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month, a major cultural event that has been marked at the Library for several years with displays, panel discussions, artistic performances, a film series and a keynote address by a distinguished speaker. The theme of this year's celebration is "Unidos: Paving the Way to the Future."

Mr. Bencastro, author and playwright, was born in Ahuachapan, El Salvador, in 1949. In 1988 he wrote and directed Crossroad, performed by the Hispanic Cultural Society Theater Group at Thomas Jefferson Theater in Arlington, Va., in October of that year.

Between 1979 and 1990, Mr. Bencastro wrote a collection of short stories, The Tree of Life: Stories of Civil War, which was published in El Salvador in 1993 by Clasicos Roxsil and subsequently by Arte Publico Press in the United States, in English and Spanish. Two of these stories, "Photographer of Death" and "Clown's Story," have been adapted for the stage.

The author's first novel, A Shot in the Cathedral, was chosen from among 204 works as a finalist in the "Novedades y Diana International Literary Prize 1989" in Mexico and was subsequently published by Editorial Diana in 1990. This work was later published in the United States, in English and Spanish, by Arte Publico Press.

A second novel, Odyssey to the North, was published by Arte Publico Press in the United States in1999 and was a finalist in the 1999 Independent Publisher Books Awards of the United States. In 1994, his short novel The Flight of the Lark was chosen as a finalist in the Literary Prize Felipe Trigo, Badajoz, Spain.

The author has presented his work in more than100 readings and conferences at public schools and libraries, universities and community organizations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Spain, Italy, Venezuela and the United States. In July 1999 the Library's Hispanic Division recorded a reading by Mr. Bencastro for the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape.

The Hispanic and Portuguese collections of the Library of Congress comprise more than 10 million items. For books, maps and retrospective holdings of government serials, newspapers and other periodicals, they are the most extensive collections in the world.

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PR 01-128
09/13/01
ISSN 0731-3527

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