William Ospina (2 March 1954) is a Colombian poet, essayist and novelist. He was born in Herveo, Tolima. He won the Romulo Gallegos Prize[1] for his novel El país de la canela, part of a trilogy about the invasion and conquest of South America.[2]

William Ospina
William Ospina.jpg
Born (1954-03-02) March 2, 1954 (age 65)
Herveo, Tolima
Notable awards-Premio Nacional de Ensayo 1982
-Premio Nacional de Poesía 1992
-Premio Casa de las Américas, Premio de Ensayo Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, 2003
-Premio Rómulo Gallegos 2009


William Ospina was born in Herveo, Tolima on 2 March 1954, but his family had to move around the south of the Colombia quite often due to the violence of the time. His father, Luis Ospina, a nurse and musician nurtured in his son a strong passion for Colombian culture "We had no books and home, but we had all the songs".[3]

He grew up in Cali where he studied law and political sciences at Santiago de Cali University. He quit his job and decided to devote to literature. He lived in Paris from 1979 to 1981. When he returned to Colombia, he became editor for the Sunday news of La Prensa Newspaper in Bogotá (1988-1989). He has written essays about Lord Byron, Edgar Allan Poe, León Tolstói, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, One Thousand and One Nights, Alfonso Reyes, Estanislao Zuleta, and William Shakespeare.

Literary themesEdit

Invasion and colonization of Latin AmericaEdit

Ospina has written several essays and articles regarding this period, establishing how valuable the understanding of these events is for the comprehension of Latin-Americans’ identity, as well as its social, cultural, and political challenges.[4][5]

In 2005, Ospina starts a trilogy of semi-historical novels about this time period:

The first book, Ursúa, depicts the life of the young conquistador Pedro de Ursúa who was initially loyal to law and justice of the Spanish crown, but as he explores the new world, he gets taken by greed and turns into a ferocious warrior who kills for power and gold. Most of the historical events narrated in these novels are inspired by the XVI century poems of Juan de Castellanos.[6]

The second book, El país de la canela, tells the first trip of Francisco de Orellana through the Amazon River and the conquests of Francisco Pizarro. This novel was awarded the Rómulo Gallegos Prize in 2009.[7]

The third book, La serpiente sin ojos, narrates the attempt of Ursúa to repeat Orellana’s trip to discover the country of the Amazons. The book also recounts the crimes of Lope de Aguirre.[8]


In 2015, Ospina publishes his novel El Verano que nunca llegó[9], where he depicts his literary investigation about the story of Villa Doidati and the events that in 1816 gave birth to the two famous literary works of Frankenstein and The Vampyre.[10][11] The story travels back and forth in time, describing Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and Mary Shelly´s life events and Ospina´s visit to sites connected these characters.

This book differs from his previous works, focused on Latin American history, to the description of global historical events with emphasis on European romanticism and its influence to our days. Ospina ponders about how past and present intertwine. How places seem to be meant to be in some people´s lives.


He has openly criticized the ineffectiveness of the Colombian government to protect its people and care for its necessities. He also recriminates the Colombian population for its apathy and lack of strong demands to its government.[12] He has supported the Colombian peace process and on April 9, 2013, during a national march of over a million people, the Colombian congresswoman Piedad Córdoba read a prayer named Oración por la paz written by Ospina.[13]

He proposes education as a solution for many of the society problems, understanding education not only as school related, but as the example that society and media gives to children. He states that youth must feel empowered enough to take part in their present and be able to change the future of a nation.[14]

According to a Colombian Newspaper, Ospina has dedicated his life to the art of thinking. His work always invites people to question their history, politics, social interactions and the handling of natural resources.[15]

Cultural contributionEdit

He has been praised by icons of Latin American literature. In 1996, Mario Vargas Llosa wrote a 2-page article in the newspaper El Pais where he analyzes the collection of essays Es tarde para el hombre, he judges Ospina's work as bewitching and of high quality, although Vargas Llosa does not agree with his ideas, he describes the author as a skilled manufacturer of sociological fictions that transfers to a mythical past.[16] In 2005, Gabriel García Márquez defined Ospina’s first novel as "the best book of the year", and Fernando Vallejo stated that the prose used in Ursúa has no competitor in the Spanish language.[17]

His work has been used by universities and academic groups to analyze political history of Colombia and other countries. In 2018, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo posted an article about the divisions within the country because of Catalonia, the article proposes Ospina’s idea of a united nation in which all differences are accepted, as a solution to the Spanish conflict.[18]

Ospina has represented Colombia in literary international evets, including Panama’s book fair in 2017[19] and Dominican Republic’s book fair in 2019.[20] The magazine Arcadia included his novel, El año del verano que nunca llegó, in the recommended books to read in the  Bogota’s Book Fair of 2015.[21]



  • Hilo de arena (1986).
  • El país del viento (1992, Premio Nacional de Poesía, Colcultura).
  • ¿Con quién habla Virginia caminando hacia el agua? (1995).
  • África (1999).
  • La tienda de la esquina
  • Poesía 1974-2004 (2007).


  • Aurelio Arturo (1991).
  • Es tarde para el hombre (1994).
  • Esos extraños prófugos de Occidente (1994).
  • Los dones y los méritos (1995).
  • Un álgebra embrujada (1996).
  • ¿Dónde está la franja amarilla? (1997).
  • Las auroras de sangre (1999).
  • Los nuevos centros de la esfera (2001. Premio de Ensayo Ezequiel Martínez Estrada de Casas de las Américas, La Habana, 2003).
  • Los Románticos y el futuro.
  • Las trampas del progreso. (2000)
  • La decadencia de los dragones (2002).
  • Lo que le falta a Colombia (2002).
  • América mestiza (2004).
  • La escuela de la noche (2008).
  • La herida en la piel de la diosa
  • En busca de Bolívar (2010).
  • La lámpara maravillosa (2012).
  • Pa que se acabe la vaina (2013)[22]



  1. ^ Valery, Yolanda (June 4, 2009). "Premio Gallegos para escritor colombiano". BBC News. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  2. ^ "El colombiano William Ospina gana el Rómulo Gallegos de novela". El País. 4 June 2009. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  3. ^ Ospina, William (12 June 2011). "Luis Ospina. Mi padre, el cantor". El Espectador. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  4. ^ Ospina, William (2012). ¿Dónde está la franja amarilla?. MONDADORI.
  5. ^ Ospina, William (2014). Pa que se acabe la vaina. Planeta.
  6. ^ Restrepo, Luis Fernando (2002). Sacred and Imperial Topographies in Juan de Castellanos' Elegías de varones ilustres de Indias. Bucknell University Press.
  7. ^ "Perfil de William Ospina, ganador del Rómulo Gallegos". El Tiempo (Colombia). 5 June 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  8. ^ Simon, Pedro (2011). The Expedition of Pedro de Ursua and Lope de Aguirre in Search of El Dorado and Omagua in 1560–1. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780511697142.
  9. ^ Ospina, William (2015). El año del verano que nunca llegó. Penguin Random House. ISBN 9789588894379.
  10. ^ "La noche que nació Frankenstein". El Mundo (Spain). 13 June 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  11. ^ Pardo, Carlos (June 25, 2015). "Ospina, Frankenstein y otros monstruos". El Pais. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  12. ^ Ospina, William (1997). ¿Dónde está la franja amarilla?. Penguin Random House. ISBN 978-958-45075-94.
  13. ^ Ospina, William (April 13, 2013). "Oración por la paz". El Espectador. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  14. ^ Ospina, Ospina (March 25, 2014). "Educación para transformar el mundo: William Ospina". Universidad de Caldas. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  15. ^ Tatis Guerra, Gustavo (October 8, 2018). "William Ospina, el arte de pensar". El Universal (Cartagena). Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  16. ^ Vargas Llosa, Mario (July 14, 1996). "El canto de las sirenas". El País. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  17. ^ "Perfil de William Ospina, ganador del Rómulo Gallegos". El Tiempo (Colombia). June 5, 2009. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  18. ^ Colom, Eduardo (March 5, 2018). "El silencio de la franja amarilla". El Mundo (Spain). Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  19. ^ "Colombia, país invitado de honor a la Feria del Libro de Panamá". Ministerio de Cultura de Colombia. August 9, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  20. ^ "Darío Jaramillo y William Ospina, en feria del libro dominicana". El Espectador. March 11, 2019. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  21. ^ "Novelas imperdibles de la FILBo I". Arcadia. March 4, 2015.
  22. ^ Ocampo, Lola (April 9, 2019). "Cinco libros para no olvidar el 9 de abril". Canal 13 (Colombia). Retrieved April 10, 2019.