Javier Parham: The Honduran writer you should know

An electrician that writes about historical topics, such as the slave trade of the 1800s and Nazi occupation of Poland

Javier Parham: The Honduran writer you should know about

I first became aware of Javier Parham’s work through a friend of mine who mentioned that he was interested in purchasing a book. It came as a surprise to me, for this particular friend had always been very much ‘against’ reading. “Es que no me gusta, no me gusta leer”. As he would always put it – my Honduran friend, “I don’t like it, I don’t like to read”.

Therefore, on asking him why the sudden interest in buying a book, he responded by telling me that the writer was from his hometown of Tela. He mentioned that he had been very successful in his work, that ‘Javier Parham’ was a celebrated writer – locally. I was immediately intrigued.

Coincidently, I then came across Señor Parham on none other than Facebook. I sent a friend request and within seconds we were connected. The idea then dawned on me to compose a piece about Parham and his career as a writer. Contemporary Honduran writers being rather hard to come by…

Javier Parham was born as Carlos Javier Parham Castro in the paradise of Tela, a Caribbean gem resting on the Honduran north coast – on September 23rd 1967. He grew up and resided there until the year 1993, when he saw the necessity to immigrate to the United States. On doing so, he settled in New York. The Big Apple has been his home ever since. Parham returns to his beloved Tela each and every year, whereupon he spends his two or three-month vacations doing what he loves best: Scuba Diving. A PADI Master Scuba Diver Training Instructor, he owns a diving school by the name of ‘Bliss Seekers’, where in which he teaches youths of disadvantaged backgrounds how to dive.

Javier Parham was always an avid reader, in spite of the fact that formal education was not to his taste. This is not to say that he debates the benefits of the education system, yet he made the personal choice of opting for more of a ‘self-educated’ path. He pursued passionately from an early age, subjects such as Psychology, Philosophy, Political Science, Literature, World History, Marine Biology, and Oceanography. He persists in his readings and studies, assuring himself that the pursuit of knowledge is endless.

Having been a soldier as a young man, he made a drastic change on settling in the US where he then became an electrician. This is his current employment as he resides in New York, an occupation that has kept him afloat for the last 28 years. He then reads and writes in his spare time, viewing his writing as more of a hobby.

He was written on all kinds of themes and subjects since boyhood. As a student in Tela’s esteemed college ‘El Instituto San Antonio’, under the guidance of his tutors – he developed a love for reading and writing. At the age of 13, under the tutelage of Maria Elisa Echeverria, he began composing works of poetry.  A few years later, his then professor Melvin Douglas Egan introduced and instilled in Parham a love for the classics, Greek tragedies, and world literature. He would spend many years writing on these themes until his close friends, family, and wife Jackie convinced him to write professionally.

‘Sedicion’, was his second book, its plot focusing on Poland and its brutal Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Javier Parham tried to emulate in this novel the success of his first book ‘Entre el Honor y el Deber’. This being a work of historic fiction centering on the slave trade of the 1800s, which was organized by the Spaniards as they stole millions of Africans; thus, forcing them into unimaginable conditions as slaves in the New World (the Americas).

This is a chapter of history, which Parham is most passionate about. He has studied deeply the consequences and effects of the slave trade and how millions of black Africans have been misplaced.

Javier Parham lives with his wife Jackeline and his three daughters, Paola, Monica, and Samantha in New York. He dreams of being able to return to his dear hometown of Tela one day with the thought of being able to retire and thus dedicate his time to writing and scuba diving: his two great passions.

I was able to speak with Mr Parham whereupon I took the chance to ask him a few questions and gain some wisdom. On having contacted Mr Parham via Facebook, he very kindly offered me one of his books - as a gift. I was sent his brother’s phone number (Parham’s brother still lives in Tela) and was told to contact the man. A day later, I found myself at the brother’s house being presented with a copy of ‘Sedicion’ – free of charge! I therefore reached out to Mr Parham later on that evening to thank him again for his generosity.  

The following interview is translated from Spanish.

Writer: I was given a book by your brother today, it looks excellent. I will begin reading it tomorrow. Thank you again Sir.

Parham: Perfect then, I hope that you like it. It was my pleasure, I’m here to help you.

W: What is indeed most interesting is that this book was written by a Honduran - someone from the other side of the World, a book on Poland during World War Two.

P: This has always been one of my favorite themes, I have always admired the Polish people and so I decided to write about them.

W: Yes, they were a very brave people during the war, in my country (UK) there are many Poles and they work very hard. I assume that you’ve seen the film ‘The Pianist’?

P: Yes, I saw it. My book covers the same period, I also admired very much a woman called Irene Sandler – I based some parts of my book on her.

W: I see, yes it’s a very fascinating part of European history, I shall investigate her as I have never heard of the woman.

P: At the end of my book I praise her and other heroes of mine, future generations need to know about them so that they are not forgotten.

W: Yes I agree, the huge sacrifice and all that they went through – they should not be forgotten.

P: Exactly, I liked how the book was received in Tela, all those that read the book told me that they knew nothing of the subject and that they felt obliged to search for more information about the period. For me, this is the most important…

W: Yes I can imagine that, I have spoken to people here about these things and almost none of them have understood me. What you’re doing is excellent, educating many people and if one can learn something whilst enjoying a book – what else?

P: That’s how it is, the same happened with my first book ‘Entre el Honor y el Deber’. They didn’t know anything about the slave trade of the 1800s. I plan on writing a book about South Africa and Apartheid – something which people there know nothing about either.

W: What can I tell you? I think that they will make a statue of you, maybe it will be in the central park of Tela? Another excellent theme – Apartheid! I say that they’ll make a statue of you as you’ll go down as a local writer who educated many people.

P: (Laughs) I wouldn’t think so friend, people don’t like to read there, it’s very difficult to get people interested in the written word. I write solely for the love of it, I don’t do it for the money because I always end up just giving my books away – no one buys books there. The beers are what sell! (Laughs again).

W: (Laughs as well) yes, what can I say? You’re absolutely right. Here in Tela, all people seem to care about is drinking and nightclubbing. Many of my friends have told me that ‘they don’t like reading’…

P: Yes that’s how it is. Speak to them about Bad Bunny (contemporary Reggaeton artist) or some other fool and they know all about them. Speak to them about Alexander Dumas and nobody knows who he is… (Laughs).

W: (Laughing) That’s how it is, if one speaks about Ozuna or Bad Bunny they know everything – even the names of their mothers! Sometimes I talk about Gabriel Garcia Marquez – you think they know who he was? Laughter continues…

P: Or Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy…


Latin American Post | Ben Anson
Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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