Chilean Poet

$18.00

by Alejandro Zambra
Translated by Megan McDowell

A NEW YORKER BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A WALL STREET JOURNAL TOP 10 BOOK OF THE YEAR
ONE OF NPR’S “BOOKS WE LOVE”

“A tender and funny story about love, family and the peculiar position of being a stepparent…[Chilean Poet] broadens the author’s scope and quite likely his international reputation.” —Los Angeles Times

“Zambra [is] one of the most brilliant Latin American writers of his generation.” —The New York Review of Books

“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

A writer of “startling talent” (The New York Times Book Review), Alejandro Zambra returns with his most substantial work yet: a story of fathers and sons, ambition and failure, and what it means to make a family

After a chance encounter at a Santiago nightclub, aspiring poet Gonzalo reunites with his first love, Carla. Though their desire for each other is still intact, much has changed: among other things, Carla now has 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.

Eventually, their ambitions pull the lovers in different directions—in Gonzalo’s case, all the way to New York. Though Gonzalo takes his books when he goes, still, Vicente inherits his ex-stepfather’s love of poetry. When, at eighteen, Vicente 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, striving, everyday ones. Pru’s research leads her into this eccentric community—another kind of family, dysfunctional but ultimately loving. Will it also lead Vicente and Gonzalo back to each other?

In Chilean Poet, Alejandro Zambra chronicles with enormous tenderness and insight the small moments—sexy, absurd, painful, 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—a partner, father, stepfather, teacher, lover, writer, and friend—it is a bold and brilliant new work by one of the most important writers of our time.

Paperback | 368 pages | Penguin Books | 2023


Alejandro Zambra is the author of ten books, including Multiple Choice, Bonsai, The Private Lives of Trees, and My Documents, a finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The recipient of numerous literary prizes, as well as a New York Public Library Cullman Center fellowship, he has published fiction and essays in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Harper’s Magazine, among other publications. He lives in Mexico City.

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