Miguel Angel Asturias Rosales was a Nobel Prize-winning Guatemalan poet-diplomat, novelist, playwrightand journalist. Asturias helped establish Latin American literature's contribution to mainstream Western culture, and at the same time drew attention to the importance of indigenous cultures, especially those of his native Guatemala.
Asturias was born and raised in Guatemala though he lived a significant part of his adult life abroad. He first lived in Paris in the 1920s where he studied anthropology and Indian mythology. Some scholars view him as the first Latin American novelist to show how the study of anthropology and linguistics could affect the writing of literature. While in Paris, Asturias also associated with the Surrealist movement, and he is credited with introducing many features of modernist style into Latin American letters. In this way, he is an important precursor of the Latin American Boom of the 1960s and 1970s.
One of Asturias' most famous novels, El SeÃ±or Presidente, describes life under a ruthless dictator. Asturias' very public opposition to dictatorial rule led to him spending much of his later life in exile, both in South America and in Europe. The book that is sometimes described as his masterpiece, Hombres de maÃz, is a defense of Mayan culture and customs. Asturias combined his extensive knowledge of Mayan beliefs with his political convictions, channeling them into a life of commitment and solidarity. His work is often identified with the social and moral aspirations of the Guatemalan people.