Chilean Poet | Granta

  • Published: 24/03/2022
  • ISBN: 9781783782888
  • Granta Books
  • 368 pages

Chilean Poet

Alejandro Zambra

Translated by Megan McDowell

Gonzalo is a frustrated would-be poet in a city full of poets; poets lurk in every bookshop, prop up every bar, ready to debate the merits of Teillier and Millan (but never Neruda – beyond the pale). Then, nine years after their bewildering breakup, Gonzalo reunites with his teen sweetheart, Carla, who is now, to his surprise, the mother of a young son, Vicente. Soon they form a happy sort-of family – a stepfamily, though no such word exists in their language.

In time, fate and ambition pull the lovers apart, but when it comes to love and poetry, what will be Gonzalo’s legacy to his not-quite-stepson Vicente? Zambra chronicles with tenderness and insight the everyday moments – absurd, painful, sexy, sweet, profound – that constitute family life in this bold and brilliant new novel.

The Author

Alejandro Zambra was born in Santiago, Chile in 1975. He is the author of two books of poems, Bahía Inútil and Mudanza; a collection of essays, No leer; and three novels, Bonsái, which was awarded a Chilean Critics Award for best novel, The Private Lives of Trees, and Ways of Going Home, which was awarded the Altazor Prize, selected by The National Book Council as the best Chilean novel published during 2012, and won an English Pen Award. He was selected as one of Granta‘s Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists and was elected to the Bogotá39 list.

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The Translator

Megan McDowell is an award-winning Spanish-language translator from Kentucky. She has translated books by Alejandro Zambra, Samanta Schweblin, Mariana Enríquez and Lina Meruane, among others, and her short story translations have appeared in the New Yorker, the Paris Review, Harper’s and Tin House. She lives in Santiago, Chile.

Photograph © Camila Valdés

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‘Something’s gone awry with this article. My intention was to remember, in his birthplace, a writer I admire, and it’s clear that my admiration has waned.’

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‘It’s hard to introduce Daniel Galera’s tale without resorting to adjectives that are more likely to arouse distrust than interest.’