Rekompensa pa su amor

Wilfrido Ortega was a popular writer of romance novels who printed and sold his own books. He published this novel titled ‘Rekompensa pa su amor’ in 1988. By then Curaçao already had a rich literary tradition. The poem ‘Atardi’ by Joseph Sickman Corsen (1905) is generally considered the first literary publication in Papiamentu.

In the 1940s authors such as Pierre Lauffer and Guillermo Rosario chose their own distribution circuits and readership by offering their simple stenciled booklets in cafes for a few dimes or selling door-to-door. Many Curaçaoan authors were multilingual and faced a trade-off: by writing in Dutch they could reach a large audience in the Netherlands but few people in Curaçao.

The work of some late 20th century Curaçaoan authors such as Boelie van Leeuwen, Frank Martinus Arion and Tip Marugg is ranked among the best of Dutch literature but hardly read on the island. Writing in Papiamentu meant catering to their own people but required a do-it-yourself mentality and resulted in little recognition and response. The most popular poet and writer of short stories of the last decades is arguably Elis Juliana who passed away in 2013.

“They sold their simple stenciled booklets in cafes for a few dimes.”