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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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2 Burnside Literature- A to Z

The Polish Boxer

by

The Polish Boxer Cover

 

Awards

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Polish Boxer covers a vast landscape of human experience while enfolding a search for origins: a grandson tries to make sense of his Polish grandfather's past and the story behind his numbered tattoo; a Serbian classical pianist longs for his forbidden heritage; a Mayan poet is torn between his studies and filial obligations; a striking young Israeli woman seeks answers in Central America; a university professor yearns for knowledge that he can't find in books and discovers something unexpected at a Mark Twain conference. Drawn to what lies beyond the range of reason, they all reach for the beautiful and fleeting, whether through humor, music, poetry, or unspoken words. Across his encounters with each of them, the narrator — a Guatemalan literature professor and writer named Eduardo Halfon — pursues his most enigmatic subject: himself.

Mapping the geography of identity in a world scarred by a legacy of violence and exile, The Polish Boxer marks the debut of a major new Latin American voice in English.

Review:

"The main character in The Polish Boxer is named Eduardo Halfon, a Guatemalan writer and literature professor not unlike the book's author, with the same name and biography. Thus right away, we're in the murky half-light where fiction meets memoir meets memory and the impossibility thereof. It's interesting territory, but it's not immediately clear what that slippage does to enhance the loose skein of past and present events that befall Eduardo. What it does do is provide a built-in explanation for the lack of tidiness: these are the stories of life, not those of the more manufactured fictional version, the book suggests. Whether the stories are true is beside the point: they're interesting in their own right. Eduardo suffers the bored contempt of his students; discovers the Mayan world that makes up the other Guatemala; finally learns the story of how his grandfather survived Auschwitz; and in the longest section, meets a traveling half-Serbian, half-Gypsy musician and then goes to Serbia to try to track him down. At the end, when his grandfather, the canny or lucky survivor, dies, and Halfon delivers a talk on how 'literature tears through reality,' we come meandering back to the questions that, as we now understand, animate this book: the question of survival (of both people and cultures) and the way the fictional makes the real bearable and intelligible, if not always neat. Agent: Andrea Montejo, the Indent Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"Funny and revelatory." New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Deeply accessible, deeply moving." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"A professor mentors a student, gains wisdom from a Mark Twain scholar and searches for a Gypsy musician, and thats only part of the story in this incredible, achingly real yet enigmatic novel." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Tight and lean...falling somewhere between the novels of Roberto Bolaño, WG Sebald, and Junot Díaz." Telegraph (UK)

Review:

"[The Polish Boxer] exists in the no-mans-land between fiction and memoir. In the end, we decide, this is fable: only the stories are important." Guardian (UK)

Review:

"This book provides multiple pleasures: clear, intense prose; sharp, laugh-out-loud depictions of classrooms and conferences...and the apparent seamlessness of the translations....The book itself gives a resounding retort to those who might dismiss it as 'another book 'about the Holocaust." Jewish Journal

Review:

"Halfon passionately and lyrically illustrates the significance of the journey and the beauty of true mystery. The Polish Boxer is sublime and arresting, and will linger with readers who will be sure to revisit it again and again." Booklist (starred review)

Review:

"Highly readable and engaging...provides readers food for thought about the nature of literary creations." Library Journal

Review:

"Brilliant...opens with one of the best classroom scenes I've ever read." Shelf Awareness for Readers

Review:

"In the simplest explanation, The Polish Boxer is a series of encounters for literature professor Eduardo

Review:

"Eduardo Halfon has been deemed one of the best young Latin American writers by the Hay Festival of Bogota; read his first work to be translated into English, The Polish Boxer, and you'll see why." Shelf Unbound

Review:

"A brave and touching and dead stylish examination of the nature of fiction, truth and lies." Dazed and Confused (UK)

Review:

"Halfon's curiosity about his grandfathers experience in a concentration camp burns through every chapter from the most subtle level to deep investigation....He has succeeded in warping a modern Balkan mystery into a Holocaust memoir...intrinsically blend[ing] fiction with reality in a deeply visceral way." Rumpus

Review:

"Eduardo Halfon is a brilliant storyteller, whose gifts are displayed on every page of this beautiful, daring, and deeply humane book." Daniel Alarcón, author of War by Candlelight and Lost City Radio

Review:

"Eduardo Halfon's prose is delicate, precise, and as ineffable as precocious art — a lighthouse that illuminates everything." Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name

Review:

"The Polish Boxer is the most memorable new novel I have read all year — the voice pitch-perfect, the imagery indelible. What a wonderful writer." Norman Lebrecht, author of The Song of Names

Synopsis:

The English-language debut of a major Latin American writer.

About the Author

Eduardo Halfon was born in Guatemala City, moved to the U.S. at the age of ten, went to school in South Florida, studied Industrial Engineering at North Carolina State University, and then returned to Guatemala to teach literature for eight years at Universidad Francisco Marroquín. Named one of best young Latin American writers by the Hay Festival of Bogotá, he is also the recipient of the prestigious José María de Pereda Prize for the Short Novel and has published ten previous books of fiction in Spanish. In 2011 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to work on continuing the story of The Polish Boxer, which is inspired by his own family history and is the first of his novels to be published in English. Halfon currently lives in Nebraska and travels frequently to Guatemala.

In consultation with the author, The Polish Boxer was translated from the Spanish by an accomplished international team of five: Ollie Brock, Thomas Bunstead, Lisa Dillman, Daniel Hahn, and Anne McLean.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781934137536
Author:
Halfon, Eduardo
Publisher:
Bellevue Literary Press
Author:
Bunstead, Thomas
Author:
Dillman, Lisa
Author:
Hahn, Daniel
Author:
McLean, Anne
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20121031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
192
Dimensions:
7.5 x 5 in

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Related Subjects

Children's » General
Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Cultural Heritage
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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Jewish
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties

The Polish Boxer Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 192 pages Bellevue Literary Press - English 9781934137536 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The main character in The Polish Boxer is named Eduardo Halfon, a Guatemalan writer and literature professor not unlike the book's author, with the same name and biography. Thus right away, we're in the murky half-light where fiction meets memoir meets memory and the impossibility thereof. It's interesting territory, but it's not immediately clear what that slippage does to enhance the loose skein of past and present events that befall Eduardo. What it does do is provide a built-in explanation for the lack of tidiness: these are the stories of life, not those of the more manufactured fictional version, the book suggests. Whether the stories are true is beside the point: they're interesting in their own right. Eduardo suffers the bored contempt of his students; discovers the Mayan world that makes up the other Guatemala; finally learns the story of how his grandfather survived Auschwitz; and in the longest section, meets a traveling half-Serbian, half-Gypsy musician and then goes to Serbia to try to track him down. At the end, when his grandfather, the canny or lucky survivor, dies, and Halfon delivers a talk on how 'literature tears through reality,' we come meandering back to the questions that, as we now understand, animate this book: the question of survival (of both people and cultures) and the way the fictional makes the real bearable and intelligible, if not always neat. Agent: Andrea Montejo, the Indent Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Funny and revelatory."
"Review" by , "Deeply accessible, deeply moving."
"Review" by , "A professor mentors a student, gains wisdom from a Mark Twain scholar and searches for a Gypsy musician, and thats only part of the story in this incredible, achingly real yet enigmatic novel."
"Review" by , "Tight and lean...falling somewhere between the novels of Roberto Bolaño, WG Sebald, and Junot Díaz."
"Review" by , "[The Polish Boxer] exists in the no-mans-land between fiction and memoir. In the end, we decide, this is fable: only the stories are important."
"Review" by , "This book provides multiple pleasures: clear, intense prose; sharp, laugh-out-loud depictions of classrooms and conferences...and the apparent seamlessness of the translations....The book itself gives a resounding retort to those who might dismiss it as 'another book 'about the Holocaust."
"Review" by , "Halfon passionately and lyrically illustrates the significance of the journey and the beauty of true mystery. The Polish Boxer is sublime and arresting, and will linger with readers who will be sure to revisit it again and again."
"Review" by , "Highly readable and engaging...provides readers food for thought about the nature of literary creations."
"Review" by , "Brilliant...opens with one of the best classroom scenes I've ever read."
"Review" by , "In the simplest explanation, The Polish Boxer is a series of encounters for literature professor Eduardo
"Review" by , "Eduardo Halfon has been deemed one of the best young Latin American writers by the Hay Festival of Bogota; read his first work to be translated into English, The Polish Boxer, and you'll see why."
"Review" by , "A brave and touching and dead stylish examination of the nature of fiction, truth and lies."
"Review" by , "Halfon's curiosity about his grandfathers experience in a concentration camp burns through every chapter from the most subtle level to deep investigation....He has succeeded in warping a modern Balkan mystery into a Holocaust memoir...intrinsically blend[ing] fiction with reality in a deeply visceral way."
"Review" by , "Eduardo Halfon is a brilliant storyteller, whose gifts are displayed on every page of this beautiful, daring, and deeply humane book."
"Review" by , "Eduardo Halfon's prose is delicate, precise, and as ineffable as precocious art — a lighthouse that illuminates everything."
"Review" by , "The Polish Boxer is the most memorable new novel I have read all year — the voice pitch-perfect, the imagery indelible. What a wonderful writer."
"Synopsis" by , The English-language debut of a major Latin American writer.
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