© literarische agentur mertin
Born in northern Chile in 1949, Luis Sepúlveda is the bestselling author of the longseller The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly, which sold over five million copies worldwide. He has many highly acclaimed literary awards to his name, among others the Primavera de Novela Prize, the Taormina Prize 2014 and the Hemingway Lugnano Sabbiadoro Prize 2016, and has written short stories, novellas, plays, radioplays and essays. Due to his political activities in the students’ movement Luis Sepúlveda had to leave Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship. Since 1997 he lives in Gijón, Spain. His books have been translated into over 40 languages.
The Story of a White Whale (“Historia de una Ballena Blanca”) is based on a true story and a myth of the Mapuche, perhaps no less real. In 1820, harpooners of the whaling ship Essex from Nantucket watched a large albino sperm whale hurling itself against the ship's rail. After a couple of attacks the Essex began to sink in the waters of the Pacific, off the coast of Mocha Island. The few survivors narrated in awe their encounter with a sea monster calling him Mocha Dick. Their testimony was later used by Herman Melville for his Moby Dick.
What all the whalers did not know is that the attack was an act of revenge because they had made it impossible for the albino sperm whale to fulfil his mission: to protect his own. He was the guardian of the whales that lived in the surrounding waters of Mocha Island, a sacred place for the Lafkenches (People of the Sea), part of the Mapuche ethnic group. When a Lafkenche died the whales transported his spirit to the Mocha Island, from where one day everyone would climb the back of the great albino sperm whale and would embark on a journey beyond the horizon, towards a faraway new prodigal land that was definitely safe from the invaders.
This is what, in his own words, the White Whale tells us.
In Luis Sepúlveda's new novel The End of the Story („El Fin de la Historia“), sniper Juan Belmonte returns to his hometown of Santiago. Actually, he would prefer to stay in the south of Chile with his girlfriend. During the dictatorship of Pinochet, Verónica was tortured in the notorious Villa Grimaldi by a Russian officer, a Cossack. Now, a client blackmails him: either he accepts a last mission, or ways will be found to destroy his life. His task is to look for a couple of men. His client believes that their goal is to free the Cossack from his luxury prison in order to act as a figurehead in the creation of an independent Cossack state in Russia. Against the backdrop of a stunning storyline, the threads finally run together in a surprising twist. When Belmonte has the Russian in his sights, the question arises: will he avenge his girlfriend?
In this explosive and carefully researched thriller that cleverly uncovers the international entanglements of perpetrators of crimes against humanity, Sepúlveda again demonstrates his outstanding narrative gift, his unshakable humour, but also his quieter poetic vein.
In his new novel The Story of a Dog Called Loyal (“Historia de un perro llamado Leal“), the bestselling author takes us with him to his roots, to the lands of the Mapuche, bringing the culture and values of the indigenous inhabitants in South America closer to his readers.
As a puppy, the German shepherd Aufman is separated from his companion Aukamañ, a young Mapuche. From then on, Aufman lives an unhappy life. One day his new owners injure the Mapuche and Aufman tries to mislead the group to save his friend. A story about friendship and solidarity, but also about respect for each other and for nature, about humour and about acceptance of foreign peoples.
Bestselling author Luis Sepúlveda presents us with another beautiful cross-over title: The Story of a Snail Who Discovered the Importance of Being Slow (“Historia de un caracol que descubrió la importancia de la lentitud”): The snail Rebelde doesn’t have an easy life: because of his awkward questions, he is banished by his group. Travelling the world on his own, Rebelde makes new friends and gains wisdom along the way. When he realises his group is in mortal danger, however, he returns home without hesitation. But will they listen to his warning? A hymn to being different and to solidarity. The book sold over 450,000 copies in Italy.
A hymn to the benefits of slowness in these hectic times, this lively tale will leave a scintillating trace embedded in your memory.
Le Figaro littéraire
This fable is intended for all those who are chasing time, whilst forgetting the importance of remembering and yet dreaming of stopping along the way.
The Story of Mix, of Max, and of Mex (“Historia de Mix, de Max, y de Mex”) can be read in the same line as Sepúlveda‘s best- and longest-selling The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly, capturing the hearts of young and old alike.
When the kitten Mix gets stuck up a tree, Max tries to save him, but ends up stuck himself. From then on, the two are unseparable, learning the lessons of life together. When Mix goes blind, he makes friends with the mouse Mex, who in return for his name lends the cat his eyes. For friendship means sharing the best that we have. Apparently simple, this cleverly composed book is full of wisdom.
An ode to friendship.
Luis Sepúlveda has the poetic gift of bringing the essential to life.
This simple but enthralling fable about different kinds of friendship, even the most improbable, will move young and old alike.
Sepúlveda’s most successful novel to date is the story of Antonio José Bolívar Proaño, an old man who reads love stories, The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (”Un viejo que leía novelas de amor“). The old man lives in El Idilio, a small village in the Amazon region, on which civilization is slowly encroaching. With great suspense the author describes the conflict caused by the confrontation between nature and civilization, without, however, glorifying nature or the life of the Indians.
The old Man who read Love Stories is magical, thanks to the author’s skill at describing jungle life. Readers will be enchanted by this finely wrought tale.
David Unger, THE NEW YORK TIMES
35 years on from Pinochet's putsch, the three former exiles Cacho, Lolo and Lucho meet up again in their home of Chile, as The Shadow of What We Were (“La sombra de lo que fuimos”): pot-bellied, balding and grey-bearded. They are reunited in a tumbledown shack, but at least they have wine and fried chicken. The three men's plan is to finally unearth a treasure the police have never tracked down: the loot from the famous bank robbery of 16 July 1925, its anniversary fast approaching.
While they wait for the grandson of Pedro Nolasco Arratia, who was directly involved in the heist itself, a marital row is brewing at the home of Coco Aravena and his wife Concha, with all sorts of domestic appliances flying out of the window. An unfortunate passer-by is killed by a falling record player, and even more unfortunately that passer-by is Pedro's grandson, the fourth friend in on the plan. Coco shall go instead of him and is recognized as an old comrade, amazing his re-found friends with the story he tells. And they decide to go all out one last time: "Well? Are we all in then? -Lolo Garmendia asked, and they raised their glasses in unison on that rainy night in Santiago."
Early next morning, they make their way into the Café Dragón Feliz, where they actually find the money and documents they had suspected there and this time the press reports on the story in all detail. Coco and his wife, meanwhile, leave the interrogation a free man and woman, holding hands like a love-struck young couple. On this 16 July, they say, it even stopped raining in Santiago.
Affectionate, funny and with a good pinch of irony, Sepúlveda's novel tells of society's losers, who have never lost their faith in humour and love and so end up as winners after all.
An amazing book, a mixture of heartbreak and humour.
The Huffington Post
Sepúlveda’s magical prose becomes a tense masterpiece, drawing as much from Hemingway as from the tradition of magical realism.
Those who don’t know Sepúlveda yet will delight in this authentic, pure and powerful narrator.
The enchanting story of a little seagull and a big black fat cat, The Story of a Seagull and of the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly (“Historia de una gaviota y del gato que le enseñó a volar”), which takes place in the harbour of Hamburg, Sepúlveda’s “home”-town for many years. The book has become one of the favourites of young and adult readers and is a bestseller in many countries all over the world until today.
A charming tale of devotion, courage and the importance of keeping one’s word.
Luis Sepúlveda's project Last News from the South ("Últimas noticias del Sur"), a book combining texts and photos reading like a novel, has its roots in a journey to Patagonia undertaken with the well-known photographer Daniel Mordzinski. Describing beautiful encounters in a magical landscape, the authors evoke a Patagonia lost, making the reader feel a little bit closer to heaven.
Sepúlveda’s readers are aware of his great passion: travelling, wandering through the world, observing its peoples and listening to their stories. But the author has another passion, you could say in symbiosis with the first one, which is, that he loves to tell stories his way, stories he has heard elsewhere, and others which, thanks to his overwhelming narrative capacity, enrich reality, transforming them into literature like in Patagonia Express or in Disencounters (“Desencuentros”).
Together with Mario Delgado Aparaín, Sepúlveda wrote The Worst Stories of the Grim Brothers (“Los peores cuentos de los hermanos Grim”), a humorous epistolary novel. 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, witty parody of history, science and adventure stories
In Aladdin's Wonderlamp ("La lámpara de Aladino") Luis Sepúlveda once again spirits the reader into the magical world of his storytelling. He stretches a broad sky above his cast of characters: clouds heavy with snow above a Hamburg station where the homeless and the lovesick seek a little warmth. The green leafy roof of the Amazonas, which slowly but surely overgrows a place that was once a haven of friendship. Blinding sunlight over the Rio Carnival, which two women use for a con trick. A starry firmament in the Orient, under which a man dreams of a romantic encounter. The Straights of Magellan and their mountains, in which nature is desolate and life is harsh and simple. The endless vastness of Patagonia, where a lonely tree defies the perpetual winds. The characters are sometimes lonely and sometimes have to go their separate ways. But again and again they stand together in friendship, solidarity and love. And it truly exists, Aladdin's magiclamp which holds a delightful surprise, not just for its owner.
In his new short story collection Stories from Here and There (“Historias de aquí y de allá”), Luis Spúlveda gathers up his recollections of an eventful life. Through his inimitable narrative force, he masterfully transfigures observations and episodes into fascinating stories. In 1990 Sepúlveda returned home for the first time after fourteen years in exile, in his luggage a photo of five children taken coincidentally in the late 1970s. The aim of his journey was to find these children and photograph the group again. He managed to do so, but there was a gap in the picture – one of the children was no longer alive. Taking this boy’s story as his starting point, Sepúlveda writes about the state of Chile after seventeen years of dictatorship, his critical but affectionate and humorous stories set in various Latin American countries sending messages from a world that no longer exists.
Premio Gabriela Mistral de poesía, 1976
Premio Rómulo Gallegos de novella, 1978
Premio Tigre Juan de novella, 1988
Premio Primavera de Novela, 2009
Taormina Prize, Italy 2014
Hemingway Lugnano Sabbiadoro Prize, Italy 2016
Rights sold in over 40 languages, several film adaptations. Please ask for separate list.
The Story of a White Whale (”Historia de una Ballena Blanca“)
Already sold in France, Greece, Italy, Poland and Portugal
The Story of a Dog Called Loyal (”Historia de un perro llamado Leal“)
Barcelona: Tusquets 2016, 94 p.
Complete English translation by Nick Caistor available
Over 300.000 copies sold in Italy
The Story of a Snail Who Discovered the Importance of Being Slow
(”Historia de un caracol que descubrió la importancia de la lentitud“)
Barcelona: Tusquets 2018, 89 p.
(III. of the German edition by Quint Buchholz)
Complete English translation by Nick Caistor available
Over 450.000 copies sold in Italy
The Story of Mix, of Max, and of Mex (“Historia de Mix, de Max, y de Mex”)
Madrid: Espasa Calpe 2012, 70 p.
Italy: Domus de Janas
The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly
(“Historia de una gaviota y del gato que le enseñó a volar”)
Barcelona: Tusquets 1996, 138 p.
5 million copies sold worldwide
Photos by Daniel Mordzinski
Barcelona: Espasa Calpe 2012, 215 p.
Primavera de Novela Prize 2009
Together with Mario Delgado Aparaín:
Barcelona: Roca 2004 ● Buenos Aires: Seix Barral 2004, 220 p
Barcelona: Ediciones B 2001, 94 p.
Barcelona: Tusquets 1998, 140 p.
Barcelona: Tusquets 1994, 223 p.
Barcelona: Tusquets 1989, 145 p.
The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (”Un viejo que leía novelas de amor“)
Barcelona: Tusquets 1989, 137 p.
Sold in France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal
Barcelona: Norma 2010, 138 p.
Barcelona: Tusquets 2008, 174 p.
Roses of Atacama (“Historias marginales”)
Barcelona: Seix Barral 2000, 153 p.
Barcelona: Tusquets 1997, 240 p.
Barcelona: Tusquets 1995, 178 p.
Vivere per qualcosa
Milan: Guanda 2017, 93 p.
Un’idea di felicità
Milan: Guanda 2014, 168 p.
Escritura en tiempos de crisis
Sold in France, Italy, Portugal
Los calzoncillos de Carolina Huechuraba
Santiago de Chile: Aún creemos en los sueños 2006, 66 p.
Santiago de Chile: Aún creemos en los sueños 2004, 63 p.
Barcelona: Ed. B 2004, 268 p.
Gijón: Literastur 2002, 100 p.
Participation in anthologies:
Poesie senza patria
Italy: Guanda 2003
Barcelona: Ediciones B 2003
Cuentos del mar
Barcelona: Ediciones B 2001
Homeless Stories (“Cuentos apátridas”)
Barcelona: Ediciones B 1999