Mario Delgado Aparaín


© Daniel Mordzinski



Mario Delgado Aparaín was born in Florida (Uruguay) in 1949. Besides writing, he teaches literary workshops. He has published several internationally successful novels and volumes of short stories. For many years, Delgado was working as a journalist and university lecturer, was head of Montevideo's Department of Culture. In 2002 he received the Instituto Cervantes Award in the Juan Rulfo Competition from Radio Francia Internacional for his short story Terribles ojos verdes. Mario Delgado has his own TV programme, Café negro, where he interviews well-known writers and artists.



The Magnificent Eight (“Los ocho magníficos”), is the exquisitely vernacular recreation of a Western where smugglers, English railway workers and an army of criminals revolve around the border adventures of bandit Filisbino Nieto at the beginning of the twentieth century, a time when Halley's comet foreshadowed the end of the world. This parody of power and war arises from the joining together of two short and endearing stories, State of Grace (“Estado de gracia”) and On Mother's Orders (“Por mandato de madre”). It is a novel of contrasts, where the real and the fantastic compete in parallel between stubborn resurrections, incendiary passions and the insistence of the train that advances with the most uncertain future predicted by progress. An unforgettable story that leaves the reader with the unsettling conviction that in this world, nobody can save themselves alone.



Captain Lander used to travel the seven seas. He now lives as a scale-model boat builder in a cabin at the Uruguayan seaside, where he rescues a young tango dancer and receives a visit, after two decades, from his old friend Sampedro. What they don’t know is that the tango dancer’s father was Sampedro and his enemy during the dictatorship of the 70s and 80s, and that he has hired a hitman to kill them. A bold journalist, a clueless policeman, a beautiful nurse and the hitman himself, who turns out to have an “ethical code”, will be responsible for preventing the murder.

Written with incisive humour and ironic prose, Tango of the Ancient Mariner (“Tango del viejo marinero”) is a great novel by Mario Delgado Aparaín at his best, dealing with subjects such as loneliness, absolution, love and friendship. Returning to his fictional town of Mosquitos, this novel is both local and universal. It is a reflection on self-knowledge as an act of resistance. Combining elements of political novel and thriller, this fascinating book will keep the reader in suspense from beginning to end.


It is an enormous pleasure to be able to enjoy this unique way of narrating. Milagros, Sampedro and Captain Lander are all such ferociously tender characters that it’s impossible not to experience their physical presence on turning every page. Tango of the Ancient Mariner is a magnificent novel, and is so much “of us” that in the end it becomes profoundly Latin American.

Luis Sepúlveda



Delgado’s novel, The Man from Brussels (“El hombre de Bruselas”), shows in a refreshingly ironic way how the all-powerful Europe is seen from a small South American country. When election time comes around in the poverty-stricken town of Mosquitos, the mayor applies for support from the generous European Union. And really, a man from Brussels comes over to help and all the good red wine and a beautiful woman prompt him to a brilliant idea …


Delgado’s prose is luminous and extremely precise, and yet he maintains the gift of the great oral storytellers.

El País (Uruguay)


In his wonderful new novel, Delgado transcends the barrier of the tangible and the provable with urgent narrative and the matter-of-factness of a subatomic particle.





Together with Luis Sepúlveda, Delgado wrote The Worst Stories of the Grim Brothers (“Los peores cuentos de los hermanos Grim”), a humorous epistolary novel. In this witty parody of history, science and adventure stories a Patagonian and a Uruguayan professor mean to investigate the life of Caín and Abel, two musicians and poets of the early 20th century. Feeling extremely important, they mainly talk about women, alcohol and money.



In The Ballad of Johnny Sosa (“La balada de Johnny Sosa”), Delgado abducts his readers to the fictitious small town of Mosquitos where the negro Johnny is working on his career as a singer, attracting the attention of a military leader. But when his friends mysteriously start to disappear, Johnny realizes that he has been used by the new rulers. With deft irony and tragi-comic elements, Delgado has created a finely honed parable on human dignity.


The Ballad of Johnny Sosa has earned a place among the short masterpieces for which contemporary Latin American literature has become known. The story has the makings of a classic, a judgement bourne by its success in Europe. Keep your eyes on the book and on its author. Mario Delgado Aparaín is on the brink of a brilliant literary career.

Miguel García-Posada, El PAÍS


A small jewel from a country in which gradually literature is blossoming after the devastation of tyranny.




The author had become famous through his short stories, some of which were set in the small town of San José de las Cañas. They represent the author’s reaction to the growing number of people living in cities, and the increasing concentration on city life. Delgado Aparaín, who himself grew up in the country, tells stories about the lives of people who in their meagre existence have maintained the capacity to dream and to escape from the narrowness of their everyday life, which holds out so little hope of change.

When Delgado’s fourth novel, Thou Shall Not Steal the Boots of the Dead (“No robarás las botas de los muertos”) was published in 2002, Mario Benedetti, otherwise sparing with praise, closed his presentation with the words: … and so I believe that Thou Shall Not Steal the Boots of the Dead is not only Mario Delgado Aparaín’s most accomplished novel, but also one of the best examples of Latin American narrative at the turn of the century.






The Magnificent Eight (“Los ocho magníficos”)

Montevideo: Planeta Uruguay 2018, 237 p.

Italy: Guanda


Tango of the Ancient Mariner (“Tango del viejo marinero”)

Montevideo: Planeta Uruguay 2015, 221 p.

Italy: Guanda 2017


La fábula del tucutucu real contada por un Cronista de Indias que casi no cuenta el cuento

Montevideo: Banda Oriental 2014 71p.

(Ill. by Ignacio Calero)


The Man from Brussels (“El hombre de Bruselas”)

Montevideo: Banda Oriental 2011, 187 p.

Italy: Guanda 2013


The Worst Stories of the Grim Brothers (“Los peores cuentos de los hermanos Grim”)

Barcelona: Roca 2004; Buenos Aires: Seix Barral 2004, 224 p.

(Together with Luis Sepúlveda)

France: Métailié 2005 Greece: Opera 2006 Italy: Guanda 2005 Korea: Open Books 2007 Poland: Noir sur Blanc 2008 Portugal: ASA 2005, Porto Editora Serbia & Montenegro: Paidea 2008


Thou Shall Not Steal the Boots of the Dead (“No robarás las botas de los muertos”)

Montevideo: Alfaguara 2002, 441 p.


Alivio de luto

Montevideo: Alfaguara 1998, 143 p., Montevideo: Planeta 2015, 221p.       

Shortlisted for Premio Internacional Alfaguara 1998

Film rights sold to Lavorágine Films, released 2017. Screenplay by Guillermo Casanova and Inés Bortagaray              

Nominee from Uruguay for the Oscar and Goya Award 2018

English translation available

France: Métailié 2000 Germany: Alexander Fest 2001, edition día (eBook) Italy: Guanda 1999 Portugal: ASA 2001 Uruguay: Planeta


El día del cometa

Montevideo: Banda Oriental 1985, 72 p.


State of Grace (“Estado de gracia”)

Montevideo: Banda Oriental 1983; Alfaguara (Uruguay, Argentina, Chile) 1996, 75 p.


On Mother's Orders (“Por mandato de madre”)

Montevideo: Alfaguara 1996, 207 p.


The Ballad of Johnny Sosa (“La balada de Johnny Sosa”)

Montevideo: Banda Oriental 1991, 132 p. , Alfaguara ( Spanish world rights) 2000, Montevideo: Planeta 2014, 139 p.

Film rights under option

Brazil: Garamond 1993 France: Métailié 1994, pb 2005 Germany: Luchterhand 1996, Fischer pb 1998, edition día (eBook) Greece: Opera 1998 Italy: Anabasi 1994, Guanda 2009 The Netherlands: Arena 1993 Portugal: ASA 1999, Quetzal 2013 Spain: Ediciones B 1995 Turkey: CAN 2007 Uruguay: Planeta 2018 US: Overlook 2002, pb 2005




Un perro sin nombre

Montevideo: Banda Oriental forthcoming


Un mundo de cuentos

Montevideo: Planeta 2013, 382 p.


Vagabundo y Errante

Montevideo: Banda Oriental 2009, 174 p.


El canto de la corvina negra y otros cuentos

Montevideo: Banda Oriental 2003, 93 p


Terribles ojos verdes

Montevideo: Alfaguara 2001, 53 p.

Premio Juan Rulfo, Radio France Dec. 2001


La leyenda del Fabulosísimo Cappi y otras historias

Montevideo: Alfaguara 1999, 306 p.


Las llaves de Francia

Montevideo: Banda Oriental, 1989, 85 p.


Causa de buena muerte

Montevideo: ARCA 1982, 106 p.




Voces del café negro

Montevideo: Planeta Uruguay, 2016, 207 p.



Short stories in anthologies:

Tu nombre flotando en el adiós

Barcelona: Ediciones B 2003

Italy: Guanda 2004 Portugal: Oficina do Livro 2008


Cuentos del mar

Barcelona: Ediciones B 2001

Italy: Guanda 2002 Portugal:ASA




For children:

La taberna del loro en el hombro

Montevideo: Banda Oriental 2007, 31 p.

Mexico: CIDCLI 2003