Paraguayan Nobel nominee got his start in St. Paul

The Nobel Foundation has not confirmed it, but according to the newspaper El Mirador Paraguayo, 29 year old Nestor Amarilla has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Amarilla, a native of Paraguay, earned scholarships to Fridley High School and Metropolitan State University after learning English from a Peace Corps volunteer based in his hometown, Coronel Oviedo.

While in the Twin Cities, Amarilla wrote numerous plays. One of those, “Saved by a Poem” he directed in Teatro del Pueblo’s 2006 Political Theatre Festival. According to Teatro Del Pueblo, it is that very play, which also goes by the name “Fecha Feliz” (“Happy Date”) which earned Amarilla his Nobel nomination.

Based on a true story, “Saved by a Poem” takes place in the countryside of Paraguay in 1975, when General Alfredo Stroessner was in power. In the play, the mother tries to save the life of her only son from dictator Stroessner through a poem.

The list of nominees for a Nobel prize are normally not revealed until fifty years after the award is given, but news of Amarilla’s nomination was leaked to the press. The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature will be announced in October. If Amarilla were to win, he would be its youngest recipient.

Teatro del Pueblo is currently in the second week of its ninth annual Political Theatre Festival, continuing through March 13, 2010.