Alejandro Zambra Story

For the Alejandro Zambra fans out there, he has a new short story in the Spanish-language publication Letras y Libres.

For those wondering who Zambra is, see our review of his recently translated novel, Bonsai:

The first novel by an up-and-coming Chilean poet, Bonsai won Chile’s national critics’ prize for best novel when it was published in 2006, and it is now available in English through Melville House’s series, “The Contemporary Art of the Novella.” Its plot is very basic. Zambra himself described it as “a very simple story whose only peculiarity is that nobody knows how to tell it well.” In fact, it is summed up by the very first line: “In the end she dies and he remains alone, although in truth he was alone some years before her death.” As we read on, the details get filled in. We learn their names (Julio and Emilia), their age (college students), what they do together (read literature before sex), and what happens after they break up (she goes to Madrid and dies, he stays in Chile and raises a bonsai). Yet it perhaps disservices the book to splay the characters out in this way, for they are charming, wistfully funny, and completely believable. Take, for example, the narrator’s remark that, “Julio and Emilia’s peculiarities weren’t only sexual (they did have them), nor emotional (these abounded), but also, so to speak, literary.” The tone, both disarmingly intimate and bemusedly detached, is completely engaging.


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