The twenty stories in Chile: A Traveler’s Literary Companion—most of which are available here for the first time in English—reveal that the nation that gave birth to two poets who won Nobel prizes in literature is also the home of many world-class prose writers. This collection evokes the diversity of the country’s landscape and the complexity of its recent history.

Katherine Silver is a freelance translator, editor, teacher, and writer who has lived in Chile frequently and for long periods from 1979 to the present. She has translated the works of Antonio Skármeta (The Postman), Elena Poniatowska, José Emilio Pacheco, and Martín Adán. She has also translated Pedro Lemebel’s The Queen of the Corner for Grove/Atlantic Press.

We can hear a country speak and better learn its secrets through the voices of its great writers. Chile is delightfully revealed through these thoughtfully chosen stories by some of the best contemporary Chilean authors. For those who plan to travel to Chile by plane or in their imaginations, Chile is a wonderful guide to the land, its culture, and its people. This is an evocative addition to an engaging series—a compelling idea, thoughtfully executed.

Isabel Allende

The conquistadors called Chile “the ends of the earth.” A land of “mad geography,” dramatic landscapes, literary geniuses, political visionaries, and political and terrestrial earthquakes, Chile emerges seductive and exciting in this book. An irresistible invitation for an adventure.

Antonio Skármeta, author of Il Postino (1995 Oscar nominee, Best Picture and Best Actor)

  • El Centro
    • Santiago
      • Darío Oses, The Poet, Wine, and Sheep
      • Pedro Lemebel, The Queen of the Corner
      • José Donoso, Curfew
      • Ariel Dorfman, The Nanny and the Iceberg
      • Jorge Edwards, My Name Is Ingrid Larsen
    • Along the Coast
      • Pablo Neruda, Roaming in Valparaíso
      • Osvaldo Rodriguez Musso, Valparaíso, My Love
      • Adolfo Couve, Seaside Resort
      • Marjorie Agosín, Isla Negra
    • Heartland
      • Beatriz García-Huidobro, Until She Go No More
  • El Norte
    • Iquique
      • Patricio Riveros Olavarría, The Ghost of the German Voyeur
    • Antofagasta
      • Hernán Rivera Letelier, The Señora of the Nightgowns
    • Atacama
      • Roberto Ampuero, The Train
      • Roberto Ampuero, Afternoon in the Pampa
      • Luis Alberto Acuña, Walking through the Atacama
  • El Sur
    • Concepción
      • Tito Matamala, Deputies’ Street
    • Temuco & the Lake District
      • Pablo Neruda, The Chilean Forest
      • Marta Brunet, Black Bird
    • Aysén
      • Enrique Valdés, Window on the South
    • Patagonia
      • Francisco Coloane, On the Horse of Dawn
      • José Miguel Varas, Pikinini
    • Tierra del Fuego
      • Patricio Manns, A Lone Horseman
  • Luis Alberto Acuña was born in Iquique and has published five volumes of stories and novels. He has received numerous literary prizes including the Santiago Municipal Prize. One of his stories was recently made into a short film for the Chilean National Television Network, and many of his works have been anthologized in Chile and in other countries.
  • Marjorie Agosín (1955 – ) is an award-winning poet, short-story writer, and human rights activist. Her most recent volumes of poetry are Dear Anne Frank, An Absence of Shadows, and Desert Rain. She is currently a professor and chair of the Spanish department at Wellesley College. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two children.
  • Roberto Ampuero (1953 – ) was born in Valparaíso and began his literary career in Chile in 1993 with the publication of a novel that won El Mercurio newspaper’s prestigious Best Novel Prize. Ampuero has since published several more books, including a series of detective novels, and is one of Chile’s best-selling contemporary writers. He currently lives and teaches in Iowa.
  • Marta Brunet (1897–1967) was born in Chillán. She was a diplomat, journalist, and a key figure in Chilean literary and intellectual circles. She is considered one of the founders of the criollista school because of her portrayals of the landscape, rural life, and the psychological subjectivity of her characters, especially women. She received the prestigious National Award for Literature in 1961.
  • Francisco Coloane (1910 – 2002) was born in Quemchi and left school at an early age to begin a life of adventure. He worked in various capacities on sheep farms in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, was involved in Chile’s first expedition to Antarctica, and was a journalist in Santiago before beginning his literary career. He won the prestigious National Award for Literature in 1964. He has often been called the Jack London of Chile. Francisco Coloane died while this book was in production.
  • Adolfo Couve (1940 – 98) was born in Valparaíso. He studied art in Chile, Paris, and New York. Although he gained considerable fame as a painter, his greatest achievements are thought to be his literary works, which include ten volumes of novels, novellas, and short stories. He committed suicide in his mansion in Cartagena in 1998.
  • José Donoso (1924 – 96) was born in Santiago. His works have been translated into seventeen languages, and he received numerous prestigious awards including the William Faulkner Foundation Prize and the Critics’ Prize in Spain. He is considered to be one of the most important writers of the Latin American literary boom of the 1960′s and ’70s.
  • Ariel Dorfman (1942 – ) was born in Argentina but grew up in Chile, from where he was exiled in 1973. He currently holds the Walter Hines Page Chair at Duke University. His major publications include essays, novels, poetry, plays, and screenplays, and he has been awarded many international prizes.
  • Jorge Edwards (1931 – ) was born in Santiago into one of Chile’s leading cultural and intellectual families. He served as a diplomat with Pablo Neruda in Paris and as the representative of the Allende government in Cuba. He has written many novels, short stories, and several volumes of non-fiction. In 2000, he received the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious award granted to writers in the Spanish language.
  • Beatriz García-Huidobro (1959 – ) was born in Santiago. She writes textbooks, novels for children and young adults, and recently published her second novel, Sombras nada más. Her first novel, Until She Go No More, was a finalist for the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize in Mexico.
  • Pedro Lemebel (1957 – ) is best known for his series of urban chronicles that document the lives of marginal groups in Chilean society. He received a Guggenheim Grant in 1999, and has received enormous critical and popular success. His first novel The Queen of the Corner (Grove/Atlantic, 2003) was a best seller when it was published in Chile in 2001.
  • Patricio Manns (1937 – ) was born in the Bío-Bío region of Chile and lived in France for many years after the military dictatorship took power in Chile. He has written dozens of novels, testimonials, and volumes of short stories, essays, and poetry and won countless prizes in Chile and internationally. He was one of the most important members of the New Chilean Song Movement and continues to perform and compose extensively.
  • Tito Matamala (1963 – ) was born in Puerto Montt and has lived in Concepción since 1982. He has published six books, and his stories have appeared in many anthologies. His last book, a collection of humorous essays, Nuevo manual del buen bebedor, was published in 2002. In addition to writing fiction, he works as a journalist and teaches at the Universidad de Concepción.
  • Pablo Neruda (1904 – 73) was born in Parral, Chile. He shared the World Peace Prize with Paul Robeson and Pablo Picasso in 1950 and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971.
  • Darío Oses (1949 – ) was born in Santiago and is currently director of the library and archives of the Pablo Neruda Foundation. He has won some of Chile’s most prestigious literary awards for his eight novels and many short stories, which have been published in collections and anthologies. He lives in Santiago with his wife and two children.
  • Hernán Rivera Letelier (1950 – ) was born in Talca and raised in a mining town in the Atacama desert. He achieved sudden critical and commercial success with the publication in 1994 of his first novel, La Reina Isabel cantaba rancheras. He is one of Chile’s most widely read and critically acclaimed writers, and his name is currently under consideration for the prestigious National Award for Literature. He lives with his wife and children in Antofagasta.
  • Patricio Riveros Olavarría (1962 – ) was born in Iquique and lived for many years in Holland and Cuba. He has received numerous literary prizes in Cuba, Chile, and Spain, and has written hundreds of stories, novellas, and one novel. He currently resides in Iquique, where he directs his own radio and television shows and continues to work in print journalism.
  • Osvaldo Rodríguez Musso (1943 – 96), known popularly as “El Gitano,” was born in Valparaíso. He was a musician, visual artist, poet, songwriter, and essayist. One of the most important members of the Chilean New Song Movement, he was exiled in 1973 and spent the remaining years of his life traveling throughout the world. He died in Bardolino, Verona.
  • Enrique Valdés (1943 – ) was born in Río Baker in the extreme south of Chile. He received his doctorate from the University of Illinois and taught at Purdue University. He had been awarded numerous prizes for his four novels, three volumes of poetry, and a volume of stories. He is currently professor of Latin American and children’s literature at Universidad de Los Lagos in Osorno where he also directs a chamber music ensemble.
  • José Miguel Varas (1928 – ) was born in Santiago and is well known as a newspaper and radio journalist. He lived in exile in the Soviet Union for fifteen years during the military dictatorship. Over the last half century, he has published tens of volumes of stories, novels, social commentary, and literary criticism.
  • Katherine Silver (1957- ) is a freelance translator, editor, teacher, and writer who has lived in Chile frequently and for long periods from 1979 to the present. She has translated the works of Antonio Skármeta (The Postman), Elena Poniatowska, José Emilio Pacheco, and Martín Adán. She has also translated Pedro Lemebel’s The Queen of the Corner for Grove/Atlantic Press.
  • Dick Cluster is the author of the novels Return to Sender, Repulse Monkey, and Obligations of the Bone. His translation from Spanish has focused especially on Cuban writers, including story collections, novels, and anthologized stories by Aida Bahr, Alejandro Hernández Díaz, Pedro de Jesús, Antonio José Ponte, Abel Prieto, Mylene Fernández, and Mirta Yáñez.
  • Lisa Dillman is a Lecturer in Spanish at Emory University in Atlanta. She has translated biography, art history, and pedagogy in addition to Spanish, Catalan, Cuban, and Argentinian fiction. She is the co-editor with Peter Bush of Spain: A Traveler’s Literary Companion. Her most recent translation is the novel Pot Pourri: Whistlings of a Vagabond, by Eugenio Cambaceres (Oxford University Press).
  • Nancy Abraham Hall has been a member of the Wellesley College Spanish Department since 1989. Raised in a bilingual household in Mexico City, she holds a Ph.D. in Hispanic American Literature from Harvard University. Her most recent publications include articles on Borges, Boullosa, and Fuentes. Currently she is co-editing Studies in Honor of Enrique Anderson Imbert (Juan de la Cuesta) with Lanin A. Gyurko of the University of Arizona.
  • Alfred MacAdam is the editor of Review: Latin American Literature and Arts, a publication of the Americas Society. He teaches Latin American literature at Barnard College and Columbia University. He has translated Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Julio Cortázar, and other Spanish American authors.
  • David Petreman is currently a professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at Wright State University. He has published books and articles on Latin American literature and his poetry can be found in many U.S. and Canadian literary journals. He has translated the work of a number of Chilean writers and poets. His most recent book is The Faces of Rain (Los Rostros de la Lluvia), a bilingual edition of the poetry of Marino Muñoz Lagos.
  • Hardie St. Martin has translated work by Vincente Aleixandre, Roque Dalton, Enrique Lihn, Nicanor Parra, and Luisa Valenzuela, among others. He is the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards, including a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship in 1965, and a P.E.N. International Translation Award and an ALTA award for excellence in editing and translation. He lives in Barcelona.

CHILE: A Traveler’s Literary Companion
Trade paperback original
5 x 7¼, 256 pp.,
ISBN 9781883513139
Publication date: April 2003

Excerpts to come.

Posted on 14 February 2010

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