Cuban journalist Abraham Jiménez Enoa was chosen as the winner of the 2023 Michael Jacobs Traveling Writing Grant, awarded by the Gabo Foundation, the Hay Festival, and the Michael Jacobs Foundation for Travel Writing.
For the 9th edition, the judging panel was made up of the 2022 grant winner Federico Guzmán Rubio (Colombia), as well as Jon Lee Anderson (United States) and Daniel Samper Pizano (Colombia)—master lecturers at the Gabo Foundation—who chose Jiménez Enoa's proposal, “Aterrizar en el mundo,” among 341 book and article proposals.
In “Aterrizar en el mundo,” Jiménez Enoa sets out to tell the story of his first year living outside Cuba, after being confined to the island for his entire life—33 years. Jiménez Enoa proposes to write a long-form story that travels from the present to the past, and that travels around some of the West’s most emblematic cities, where he has lived in exile, seeing them not through a lens of naivety, astonishment, and recklessness, but from a more detailed, analytical, and structured perspective.
According to the panel’s report, the judging panel chose a project with a narrative pulse, clear structure, and unity, which delves into foreign lands, seeing them from a deeply unique perspective. For the judging panel, “the originality of Jiménez Enoa's proposal is captivating. It is interesting and unexpected because it trumps the common story of foreigners portraying socialism in Cuba. Here, a Cuban sets out to tell the story of life, other dictatorships, capitalism, racism, and xenophobia from his own perspective. The judging panel highlighted Jimenez's knack for identifying what has been normalized, what has been marginalized, and what is seemingly invisible.”
Honorable Mention: Eric Lombardo Lemus
The judging panel highlighted the project submitted by journalist Eric Lombardo Lemus (El Salvador) as a finalist of the 2023 Michael Jacobs Travel Writing Grant. The panel considered his proposal, “¡Revolución o suerte! Viaje a las rutas de la insurrección salvadoreña” (Revolution or Luck! Journey Through the Salvadoran Insurrection), to be relevant and crucial in understanding the past and confronting the present of two generations: one that survived brutality, and another that wants to understand the Salvadoran civil war.
Since 2015, the Michael Jacobs Grant winners include Álex Ayala Ugarte (Spain-Bolivia), Federico Bianchini (Argentina), Diego Cobo (Spain), Sabrina Duque (Ecuador), Ernesto Picco (Argentina), J. S. Tennant (UK), Santiago Wills (Colombia), and Federico Guzmán Rubio (Mexico).
What the Winner Receives
With the $7,500 reward provided by the grant, Abraham Jiménez Enoa will revisit several cities where he lived during his first year of exile—Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Washington, and New York—to take another look without the rush of his first trip, pointing out narrative details, descriptions, and resuming conversations with people whose stories are similar to his.
About “Aterrizar en el mundo”
For Jiménez Enoa, “Aterrizar en el mundo” is a travel project through the western cities he lived in during his first year outside Cuba, but it is also a journey from the present to the past, because everything that happens in his new life in exile reminds him of his past on the island. "This trip is not for tourism; this trip’s intention is not to discover these cities. It's my life in one trip," the journalist writes in his proposal.
About Abraham Jiménez Enoa (Cuba)
Cuban journalist. He has published reports and opinion columns in The New York Times, BBC World, Al Jazeera, Vice News, Gatopardo, and Univisión, among other international media outlets. In Cuba, his reportage "El cazador" (The Hunter) was included in La Encrucijada, an anthology published in Spanish by Debate and in English by HarperCollins. Jiménez Enoa graduated as a journalist from the Universidad de La Habana’s Faculty of Communication and co-founded El Estornudo, the first Cuban online magazine dedicated to narrative journalism.