Chilean Poet

Viking. Feb. 2022. 368p. tr. from Spanish by Megan McDowell. ISBN 9780593297940. $27. F
In this latest from multi-award-winning Chilean poet and novelist Zambra, Gregorio and Carla break up after a brief stormy affair, but nine years later they rekindle their relationship, but this time Carla brings her precocious son, Vicente, into the mix. The novel’s first half focuses on developing this blended family and on poetaster Gonzalo’s efforts to get published. Then Zambra skips ahead a few years to focus on Vicente’s similar efforts to realize his poetic muse. The separate lives of these step-relatives merge at the end as they reconnect in the roles of teacher and student. Because of the whimsical touches of humor (the kid is addicted to Whiskas) and irreverent parody of poet stereotypes, readers are often left pondering how to evaluate the verses that appear dispersed throughout the pages. The novel’s familial theme resembles Zambra’s earlier Ways of Going Home more than his unconventional Multiple Choice, and translator McDowell succeeds at finding appropriate English equivalents for the profuse Chilean slang.
VERDICT English-language readers should not allow themselves to be distracted by the plethora of poets populating the novel, some famous (e.g., Nicanor Parra) and others bogus, but should instead focus on Zambra’s overarching paean to literature in general and poetry in particular.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing