More from Jorge Volpi?

No one much seemed to like Season of Ash, but the Literary Saloon points out another book of Volpi’s that sounds far better:

So while I wasn’t that taken by Jorge Volpi’s Season of Ash, I’m very intrigued by his new non-fiction work, El insomnio de Bolívar: Cuatro consideraciones intempestivas sobre América Latina en el siglo XXI, just out in Spanish.

The Antonia Kerrigan Literary Agency information page has an (English) summary, and what I’m particularly curious about is this section of the book:

the third meditation tackles recent Latin American literature: the problems of the divergent expectations of the editorial market and criticism, as well as the expectations of the new Latin American writers — all help Volpi to expose the end of a model of identity imposed from the outside. Here the figure of Roberto Bolaño, “the last Latin American writer”, stands out.

I enjoyed Volpi’s serialized essay on Latin American literature at Three Percent, so maybe this would be a more suitable form for him.

As Michael points out, Moleskine Literario has a Spanish-language excerpt from the book in which Volpi offers an amusing “before/after” list of Boom and post-Boom authors. Thus:

Convicciones políticas

Antes: Izquierda revolucionaria

Ahora: Indiferencia política y cierta simpatía por ese lugar indefinido llamado “centro”.


Antes: Presidentes y caudillos latinoamericanos, estrellas de Hollywood, artistas plásticos.

Ahora: Directores y actores de cine latinoamericano, académicos gringos, edecanes de congresos literarios [un amigo geek a quien puedes llamar para que te dé el dato de un gadget o te arregle un problema con tu portátil es imprescindible

It’s a little tongue-in-cheek but also fairly accurate. And this list of influences on the Boom and post-Boom authors should require no translation skills:

Escritores favoritos en otras lenguas

Antes: Faulkner, Dos Passos, Camus, Sartre, Mann, Mailer.

Ahora: Auster, Amis, Sebald, Tabucchi, Magris, Murakami [¿Cómo? ¿Y Nabokov? Estás mal, Volpí]

Escritores favoritos en español

Antes: Borges, Vallejo, Arguedas, Neruda, Rulfo, Paz.

Ahora: Borges, Bolaño, Marías, Vila-Matas, Piglia [aumentaría a Manuel Puig, Sergio Pitol y César Aira]

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He leído el Insomnio de Bolívar. Además de las referencias literarias, ofrece una visión futura de lo que será Latinoamerica en los próximos años y por supuesto hacia donde se encaminará su literatura. Se me hizo muy interesante. En pocas palabras los escritores latinoamericanos sin sus caudillos, sin sus revoluciones y sin su opresión, no les queda mucho de qué escribir. Se tienen que forjar una nueva identidad y eso no es nada fácil…


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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