MIAMI — Need a good summer read? Maybe you should pick up books from one of these authors.
The Hungarian writer, with ten books published to date, is nothing if not a visionary. Works like The Melancholy of Resistance and Satantango (published in English by New Directions) show a writer deeply motivated by apocalyptic themes and a universe at war with itself. His prose is riddled with detail and a poetic flair. Allen Ginsberg, in fact, lent his friendly advice to War and War while they lived together in Ginsberg’s New York apartment and as a result helped to shape the book into what it is today.
Considered the foremost Chilean writer of his generation, Alejandro Zambra is a novelist, poet, and literary critic. With only two books translated into English thus far (Bonsái and The Private Lives of Trees) and a few stories published in journals and literary magazines, the author has been hailed as one of the rising stars to watch in the coming years. In 2010, Granta recognized Zambra in their Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists issue. His novel Bonsái — winner of the Chilean Critics Award in 2006) was adapted into a film by director Cristián Jiménez (reviewed here).
The Argentinian author, who is only 34, has garnered a heap of praise for her work. Her stories, some of them bizarre and fantastical, are reminiscient of a young Kafka. Still her voice is unique and pitch-perfect, going from funny to downright terrifying in the span of a few sentences. Though neither of her collections (El núcleo del disturbio and Pájaros en la boca) have been fully translated to English, a few stories have seen publication in English, German, Czech, French, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian and Swedish. Granta recognized her in their Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists issue in 2010.
For the passed nine years there’s been quite a frenzy over the late Roberto Bolaño. His output has been tremendous, most of his books being published after his death in 2003. The Chilean novelist, poet, and essayist has been praised for his unique style and critical eye, his brazen honesty a characteristic that made him as many enemies as it did friends. Notable works include By Night in Chile, The Savage Detectives (winner of the Romulo Gallegos Prize) and 2666, his shattering epic of more than 1,100 pages, 898 in the English translation. Bolaño was a writer’s writer, a maniacal craftsman plugging away incessantly against the backdrop of illness. Do yourself a favor and pick up one of his books.
Acclaimed writer and translator Haruki Murakami has had publications in English since 1987. For decades his work has been praised and revered, having won him awards such as the Franz Kafka Prize and the Jerusalem Prize, respectively. His work has been translated into over 40 languages. His latest novel, IQ84 (longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2011) is an intricate and ambitious tale told with great detail and a keen eye for transcendant storytelling. Can someone please get this guy a Nobel Prize for Literature?
From Julio Cortázar to Jorge Luis Borges, the tradition of Argentinian literature is deep, wide, and nothing short of exceptional. César Aira, the 63 year-old novelist and translator, does well to keep this tradition going strong. With countless acclaimed works under his belt, nine in English thus far, Aira has shown no signs of slowing down. He cranks out short literary events, using a stream-of-conciousness style (he doesn’t edit), a “flight forward” technique that challenges him to keep his stories moving despite the corners he writes himself into. His stories take strange turns, always keeping the reader engaged and willfully s ubjected to the author’s mind games. Aira’s contributions to the world of letters work to keep alive the art of the novella. His latest, Varamo, is out now from New Directions.