The Diaries of Emilio Renzi: Formative Years
The Diaries of Emilio Renzi: Formative Years
By Ricardo Piglia
Introduction by Ilan Stavans
Translated from the Spanish by Robert Croll
The highly anticipated, autobiographical life’s work from the visionary Argentine novelist who brought Latin American letters out from Borges’s shadow and into the postmodern era bookended by Roberto Bolaño and David Foster Wallace.
Paperback • List Price: $21.99 • ISBN: 9781632061621 • Publication: 11/7/17 • 6” x 9” • 496 pages • Fiction—Autofiction / Latin American • Territory: World English • eBook ISBN: 9781632061638
About the Book
A giant of contemporary Latin American literature, Argentine novelist Ricardo Piglia was known for stories, novels, operas, screenplays, and essays, but his magnum opus is one that he poured into 327 secret notebooks over nearly six decades, in which he imagined himself as his literary alter ego, Emilio Renzi. Like Philip Roth’s Nathan Zuckerman, Renzi stars in many of his creator’s works, but Piglia invented him in 1957, long before his 1981 novel about Argentina’s Dirty War, Artificial Respiration, made Renzi, and Piglia, famous. In the novels, Renzi is a detective; in the notebooks that comprise The Diaries of Emilio Renzi, he is something more complex—a multilayered reconstruction of the self that the reader, performing her own detective work, teases out over these intricate, illuminating pages.
As Piglia develops as a reader and writer, falls in love, and tussles with his tyrannical father, we get eye-opening perspectives on Latin America’s tumultuous twentieth century. Obsessed with the literary giants—from Borges to Cortázar (both of whom he knew), Proust to Hemingway, Kafka to Camus—The Diaries comprise a celebration of reading as a vital, existential activity.
In 2011, when Piglia learned he had a fatal illness, he raced to complete his mysterious masterwork as rumors about the book intensified among his many fans. First released in Spanish as a trilogy amid tremendous applause, The Diaries of Emilio Renzi cements Piglia’s place in the global canon.
"The best Latin American writer to have appeared since the heyday of Gabriel García Márquez."
“[A] masterpiece…. everything written by Ricardo Piglia, which we read as intellectual fabrications and narrated theories, was partially or entirely lived by Emilio Renzi. The visible, cerebral chronicles hid a secret history that was flesh and bones.”
—The New York Times
“The diaries are a legend among Latin American writers.… [Piglia is] one of the most important contemporary writers in Spanish.”
"Ricardo Piglia is an extremely important literary figure. He has inherited Borges' quizzical intelligence, enthusiasm for the tireless exploration of literature and attraction to hidden depths. Piglia's fictions trace inventive parabolas over the past nightmarish events of his country."
"This astounding book has claimed an honorary spot on the shelf I dedicate to literary memoirs … alongside masterpieces by the likes of Virginia Woolf, Gombrowicz, Max Aub, Josep Pla, Katherine Mansfield, and Stendhal…. [Piglia’s] best novel.”
—Manuel Rodríguez Rivero, El País
"His death left us, his many Hispanic readers, feeling orphaned.”
—Valeria Luiselli, Words Without Borders
“A classic of contemporary Argentine literature.”
"His most luminous and representative work. A real masterpiece. Piglia takes us to the true center where life and literature definitively meet."
—J. A. Masoliver Ródenas
About the Author
Ricardo Piglia (Buenos Aires, 1940–2017), professor emeritus of Princeton University, is unanimously considered a classic of contemporary Spanish-language literature. He published five novels, including Artificial Respiration, The Absent City, and Target in the Night, as well as collections of stories and criticism. Among the numerous prizes he received were the Premio de la Crítica, Premio Rómulo Gallegos, Premio Bartolomé March, Premio Casa de las Américas, Premio José Donoso, and Premio Formentor de las Letras.
About the Introducer
Ilan Stavans is the Publisher of Restless Books and the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His books include On Borrowed Words, Spanglish, Dictionary Days, The Disappearance, and A Critic’s Journey. He has edited The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, the three-volume set Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, among dozens of other volumes. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Chile’s Presidential Medal, and the Jewish Book Award. Stavans’s work, translated into a dozen languages, has been adapted to the stage and screen. He hosted the syndicated PBS television show Conversations with Ilan Stavans. He is a cofounder of the Great Books Summer Program at Amherst, Stanford, and Oxford.
About the Translator
Robert Croll is a writer, translator, musician, and artist originally from Asheville, North Carolina. He first came to translation during his undergraduate studies at Amherst College, where he focused particularly on the short fiction of Julio Cortázar.