In this book of short stories, Alejandro Zambra traces the mundane existence of men who fall back on an outdated idea of masculinity, describing the transition of peripatetic beings who stake their last chips on love. The relentless search for the father, the obsolescence of objects and feelings that seemed eternal, the disenchantment of the youth of the Spanish transition to democracy, mendacity as the only means of attachment, and the legitimacy of pain are some of the subjects that are dealt with in this book.
«The first thing that should be said about Mis documentos is that it is one of those books that is difficult to categorize, but it is in this indefinable nature that its intrinsic value resides» (Iñaki Ezkerra, El Correo Español).
«The book demonstrates with singular clarity one of Zambra’s chief qualities as a writer: the ability to blur borders and create stories […] which deal with lives that are as recognizable as they are unknown, awakening in the reader both a sense of solidarity and also the impression that Zambra’s fiction […] is the key to understanding the new forms of rootlessness, not only physical, but also from the certainties that once constituted the foundation of Chilean society» (Rodrigo Pinto, El País).
«The stories appear to have no relationship between themselves, but they are all motivated by forces outside the control of their protagonists. […] Imagination is as strong here as reality, in a magnificent and complex story that reflects and contains the spirit of the whole book» (J.A. Masoliver Ródenas, La Vanguardia).
«Despite its appeal to credulous or just lazy readers, Mis documentos is not a minor work: it is the work of an author capable of creating outstanding stories, some of which […] could form part of any collection of the best writers in Spanish of the last few decades» (Patricio Pron, ABC).
«Despite only having recently arrived on the bookshelves, the new work by Alejandro Zambra has already become an indispensible book for our readers. Some of them have said that this is the best ever work by the author of Bonsái» (Roberto Careaga C., La Tercera).
«Zambra is a cartographer of solitude in contemporary Latin America, Chile and Santiago. Mis documentos studies the traces of that solitude through the fictionalisation of the author’s imagined library. Stripped of any possible meta-literary artifice, the stories of Mis Documentos become inescapable postcards from the world they describe and can be read as notes for a potential story […]; this is a writing predicated on the profundity of old family photos, a fragmented diary written by an unknown author, which at times acquires a collective meaning. In the background, we can hear Zambra’s unmistakable and undefeatable voice; a voice that only sounds like itself, but through great art, occasionally ends up sounding like the voice of us all» (Álvaro Bisama, Qué Pasa).
«Zambra´s self-referencing and concentration on a small number of themes could be precious, but his project feels not complacent but compulsive, and therefore dramatic. (...) Locations, objects and incidents recur throughout his novellas and stories. (..) Far from barrel scraping, these repetititons make Zambra´s books, his fluent and engaging writing, increasingly rich and thought-provoking. They form a network where knowledge of one influences the experience of reading another. So if you are going to read Zambra, which you should, don´t just read My Documents: read everything he´s done» (Chris Power, The Guardian).
«Zambra knows how to turn the familiar inside out, but he also knows how to wrap us up in it. These generous stories satisfy our demand for narrative even as they question it. Storytelling is like love, or at least like the kind of love on display in "Thank You", in which a man and a woman deny to the world and to themselves that they are together, though from the outside "someone brash, someone who believed in these kind of stories,... someone who believed in love -he would think that the two of them would be together for a very long time."» (Natasha Wimmer, The New York Times).
«From the title story to others like “Instituto Nacional” (both the most akin to “autobiografiction”), digital millennial culture is omnipresent, as are hyperarticulate dialogs and concomitant rapid-fire cursing, allusions, and wordplay. Haphazard episodes, flights of fancy, quasi-philosophical musings, and aesthetic digressions, some as humorous extrapolations of millennial generational angst, ultimately lend suspense to each story (...) The character studies within each tale also have a cumulative power that makes Mis documentos perhaps the best short-story collection of the last two decades» (Will H. Corral, World Literature Today).
«As a storyteller, Alejandro Zambra is not a magician or a logician, but something humbler and closer to the archaic roots of the art in the collective sharing of experience: the source of an unhurried, absorbing voice, persuasive even in its hesitations, which arouses and rewards the desire to go on listening. His four books of fiction, each slightly longer and richer than the one that went before, show how well he has been served by the "ingenuous, intense and absolute" belief in literature that he declares in Mis documentos» (Chris Andrews, Times Literary Supplement).
«I am among those who sometimes struggle with short stories, wondering if I´ve missed a profound point, my hunger for more information, a deeper engagement, unsatiated. If 2015 offers a more effective antidote than Chilean writer Alejandro Zambra´s My Documents, I´ll eat my Raymond Carver collection. Rarely have I enjoyed a series of shorts more. Voices are speedily established throught brilliant, hilariously spot-on dialogue. Characters so believable they´ll make you nostalgic for people you used to know jump to life in a couple of sentences. Laugh out loud funny, like a masterful stand-up observation comedian, there is also great pathos and undestanstanding of the human condition; children, grown-ups, and grannies. Thank you, Alejandro Zambra, for this gift» (Jane Graham, The Big Issue).
TRANSLATION RIGHTS SALES
- France (Rivages)
- Brazil (Planeta do Brasil)
- The Netherlands (Karaat)
- USA (McSweeneys)
- Italy (Sellerio)
- Norway (Solum Forlag)
- UK (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
- China (Shanghai 99)
- Turkey (Notos Kitap)
- Germany (Suhrkamp)
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.
OTHER TITLES BY Alejandro Zambra
- My Documents (EB 256)
- Ways of Getting Home (NH 487)
- Ways of Getting Home (EB 84)
- The private life of trees (NH 416)
- Bonsai (NH 391)
- Mis documentos (CM 724)
- Bonsái y La vida privada de los árboles (EB 523)
- Bonsái y La vida privada de los árboles (CM 691)
- Formas de volver a casa (CM 640)
- Tema libre (NH 627)
- No leer (A 520)
- La vida privada de los árboles (EB 35)
- Bonsái (EB 30)