Jorge Enrique Adoum (Ambato, June 29, 1926 – Quito, July 3, 2009) was an Ecuadorian writer, poet, politician, and diplomat. He was one of the major exponents of Latin American poetry. Social concerns were always present in his work.
Jorge Enrique Adoum was born in Ambato, Ecuador in 1926 of Lebanese ancestry. He wrote close to 30 books and 3 novels.
Adoum's father was Jorge Elías Francisco Adoum (1897-1958), and his mother was Juana Auad Barciona (died 1953). His father Francisco Adoum was Lebanese and migrated to Ecuador where he made Arabic-to-Spanish translations, painted, sculpted, composed music, practiced natural medicine, and wrote more than 40 volumes on occult sciences and masonry which he published under the pseudonym "Mago Jefa". He also had a private practice for hypnotism, magnetism and suggestion, and made numerous healings considered miraculous in his time. Since 1945 he traveled to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. He died in Rio de Jainero in 1958 at 61 years old.
In 1948 Adoum married Magdalena Jaramillo Cabezas with whom he had 2 daughters. He later divorced Magdalena.
Adoum is best known for his novel Entre Marx y una Mujer Desnuda (Between Marx and a Naked Woman), which received Mexico's Xavier Villaurrutia Prize. This was the first time the award was given to a foreigner. The fictional character José Gálves is loosely based on the 1930s Ecuadorian novelist Joaquín Gallegos Lara.
Adoum was Pablo Neruda's personal secretary for nearly two years in Chile. In 1963 he traveled to Egypt, India, Japan and Israel, with a grant from UNESCO's Major Project on the Mutual Appreciation of Eastern and Western Cultural Values. Unable to return to Ecuador because of the military dictatorship of 1964-1966, he worked in the Popular Republic of China. From 1964-1986 he worked in Beijing (China) and then in Geneva and Paris. In 1987 he returned to his homeland.
Adoum married Nicole Rouan from Gimel in 1977. They first met in Geneva in 1970 when Nicole was an actress in the French-version of his new play "El sol bajo las patas de los caballos" (French title: “Le Soleil Foule Par Les Chevaux”, English title: "The Sun Trampled Beneath the Horses' Hooves"). "She offered us cherries and a moment of pleasant company," is how Julio Cortázar referred to Nicole Rouen in the first few pages of The Autonauts of the Cosmoroute. Nicole translated Adoum's work into French. She died on July 13, 2011.
Adoum also translated works from the following authors into the Spanish language: T. S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Jacques Prévert, Yiannis Ritsos, Vinicius de Moraes, Nâzım Hikmet, Fernando Pessoa, Joseph Brodsky, and Seamus Heaney.
Besides the play "The Sun Trampled Beneath the Horses' Hooves", which was translated into 6 languages (including English in 1974 by Arthur McMurray and Robert Marquez), Adoum's other works have not been translated into English yet.
Adoum died at the age of 83 of heart failure in Quito on July 3, 2009. His ashes were buried under "The Tree of Life" next to the ashes of his close friend Oswaldo Guayasamín, beside Guayasamín's home in the hills overlooking Quito.