Synopses & Reviews
"A very funny, warm, and beautiful novel." —Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood
"Zambra's books have long shown him to be a writer who, at the sentence level, is in a world all his own." —Juan Vidal, NPR.org
The internationally acclaimed author, heralded as one of the most important writers of his generation, returns with the most substantial work of his career: an emotionally captivating, very funny novel about fathers and sons, ambition and failure, and the many forms of family
Nine years after their bewildering breakup, aspiring poet Gonzalo reunites with his high school girlfriend, Carla, now the mother of a six-year-old son, Vicente. Soon the three form a happy sort-of family — a stepfamily, though no such word exists in their language.
After a few years, their ambitions pull the lovers in different directions, but traces of Gonzalo remain: Vicente inherits his love of poetry. When, at eighteen, he meets Pru, an American journalist literally and figuratively lost in Santiago, he encourages her to write about Chilean poets — not the famous, dead kind, your Nerudas or Mistrals or Bolaños, but rather the living, everyday poets, who are also a kind of family. By the time Pru's article is published, Gonzalo has returned to Chile. But will he and Vicente find their way back to one another?
In Chilean Poet, Alejandro Zambra chronicles with enormous tenderness and insight the everyday moments — absurd, painful, sexy, sweet, profound — that make up our personal histories. Exploring how we choose our families and how we betray them, and what it means to be a man in relationships, it is a bold and brilliant new work by one of the most important writers of our time.
"A playful, discursive novel about families, relationships, poetry, and how easily all three can come together or fall apart." Kirkus Reviews
"Every beat and pattern of being alive becomes revelatory and bright when narrated by Alejandro Zambra. He is a modern wonder." Rivka Galchen, author of Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch
"Intelligent and funny and moving and profound....It's been a long time since I've laughed so hard or been so moved by a novel." Rodrigo Fresán, Letras Libres
"His clever irony, his lighthearted yet powerful prose, his gift for capturing this life that passes through and yet still escapes us — everything Zambra has already put into practice in his novellas and short stories explodes with vitality in Chilean Poet. Contemporary, beautiful, brilliant." Samanta Schweblin, author of Fever Dream
"Engaging...written with a simplicity and freedom....The final part is wonderful, almost miraculous, masterly." Ignacio Echevarría, El Mundo
"[An] intelligent and moving novel...jaunty and ironic but never lacking in tenderness." Jorge Carrión, New York Times en Español, "Best Spanish-Language Books of 2020"
Watch the Powell’s virtual event with Alejandro Zambra, Megan McDowell, and Daniel Alarcón!
About the Author
Alejandro Zambra is the author of five previous works of fiction, including Multiple Choice and My Documents. The recipient of numerous literary prizes and a New York Public Library Cullman Center fellowship, his stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, Granta and Harper 's Magazine, among others. He lives in Mexico City.
Megan McDowell (translator) is the recipient of a 2020 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been short- or long-listed four times for the International Booker Prize. She lives in Santiago, Chile.