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PAGES96
SERIESNarrativas hispánicas
PUBLICATION18/04/2006
REVIEWS & INTERVIEWSLetralia
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Bonsai

Bonsái

Condemned to a life of seriousness and imposture, Julio, the silent protagonist of this book, ends up convincing himself that it is better to shut himself in his room to observe the growth of a bonsai than to wander along the uncomfortable paths of literature. This is, as the narrator says, " a simple story that becomes complicated", an elliptical and vertiginous short story marked by the disturbing disappearance of a woman. Jorge Luis Borges advises us to write a story as if writing a summary of an already writen novel. This is what Alejandro Zambra has done in this book, which, in the same way that a bonsai is not a tree, is neither a short-novel nor a long-story: it is a summarised novel, or even better, ‘a bonsai novel’ . Bonsai is the brilliant narrative debut of the young Chilenean poet and literary critic Alejandro Zambra.

«A subtle, eerie, ultimately wrenching account of failed young love in Chile among the kind of smartypant set who pillow-talk about the importance of Proust. You get the cold flesh of the story in that chilling first line: “In the end she dies and he remains alone, although in truth he was alone some years before her death.” But only by reading to the end do you touch the story’s haunted soul. A total knockout» (Junot Díaz, The New York Times).


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Alejandro Zambra


Alejandro Zambra (1975) is a Chilean writer. His novels have been translated into more than ten languages including English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese and Turkish. His stories have appeared in literary magazines such as The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Zoetrope, Tin House, McSweeney’s, Vice, Letras Libres, Granta, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Quimera, Das Magazin, Tortuca and Piauí. His work has been featured in anthologies in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Holland, USA and Germany. He has worked as a literary columnist for several Chilean newspapers and magazines, including El Mercurio, La Tercera, Las Últimas Noticias, and The Clinic, as well as for newspapers in Spain, Argentina, Uruguay and Germany.

In 2013 Zambra received the Prince Claus Award in Holland for his oeuvre. He also received the 2013 English PEN Award for Ways of Going Home. In Chile he has twice received the National Council on Books and Reading prize for the best novel of the year (for Bonsai and Ways of Going Home). His novel Bonsai won the Chilean Critics prize, and Ways of Going Home won the Altazor prize. In 2007 he was chosen as one of the “Bogotá39,” the best contemporary Latin American writers under 39 years old, at the Bogotá Hay Festival. In 2010 he was chosen as one of the best Spanish-language writers under 35 by the magazine Granta. In 2011 Bonsai was adapted for the screen by the Chilean director Cristián Jiménez, and the film premiered in the section “Un Certain Regard” at the Cannes Film Festival.



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