December 10, 2012 · 7:00 PM
In an undemocratic decision, I have selected this book. Brief for the holiday season.
Winner of Chile’s Literary Critics’ Award for Best Novel
Now a Major Motion Picture
Hailed as a great Latin American literary event, this stylistically innovative, elliptically told tale of a young man and his love who mysteriously disappears is, as the narrator tells us, “a simple story that becomes complicated.”
Through both the distance and closeness of these young lovers, Alejandro Zambra brilliantly explores the relationship between art, love, and life. Bonsai is accessible yet profound—as one critic in Chile’s Capital newspaper put it, “Brief as a sigh and forceful as a blow.”
"The ‘last truly great book’ I read has to be Alejandro Zambra’s Bonsai. A subtle, eerie, ultimately wrenching account of failed young love in Chile among the kind of smartypant set who pillow-talk about the importance of Proust. You get the cold flesh of the story in that chilling first line: “In the end she dies and he remains alone, although in truth he was alone some years before her death.” But only by reading to the end do you touch the story’s haunted soul. A total knockout."
—Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
"The herald of a new wave of Chilean fiction."
—Marcela Valdes, The Nation
“One of the greatest literary events of recent years.”
—Alfonso Cortínez, Las Últimas Noticias
“An unclassifiable object of unusual beauty ... one of the best Chilean novels of recent times.”
—David Lacalle, Capital
"Bonsai is an appealing miniature, a novella that, despite its brevity, feels airy and full … an enjoyable, pleasantly surprising, and clever read."
—The Complete Review
"Bonsai won the Chilean Critics Award for best novel of the year in 2006…and it's easy to understand why."
—Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago
"What is remarkable about Zambra’s novella is the space between ending and beginning—the progressive prose that relates a true story with emotional and artistic implications extending far beyond its 83 pages."
"Zambra flexes some serious artistic muscle...."
"For such a small book to have such well-rendered characters is impressive and this, in the end, is what is essential to the novella. A good novella must impress you with its tiny size and the power of its language."
—The Phoenix (PA)
"Undeniably fascinating...the kind of story that lingers in the mind for weeks after being read."
—The Quarterly Conversation