Mario Levrero was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1940 and died there in 2004. He wrote twelve novels and several short story collections and it was not long before he gained cult status amongst readers in Uruguay and Argentina, despite keeping a low profile. He has inspired Latin American writers such as Rodolfo Fogwill, César Aira and Alejandro Zambra. In 2000 he was awarded the Guggenheim grant that allowed him to complete work on The Luminous Novel, which was published posthumously.
Image © Eduardo Abel Gimenez
‘The Luminous Novel is Levrero's greatest work, which he wrote by forcing himself to write it, knowing beforehand that what he wanted to write was impossible. That’s why, instead of the novel, he narrates the distractions that sidetrack him from the novel. It’s not so surprising that the happiest moment in The Luminous Novel is when Mario Levrero manages, finally, to fix Word 2000. Surely, fixing Word 2000 is easier than writing that unfathomable novel that Levrero writes but doesn’t write. But to write the luminous novel it is necessary to pass through the dark novel; to make true literature it is crucial to turn to, as he says, fraudulent literature. Novel without a novel; literature without literature.’
London Review of Books
'Empty Words looks like a novel about handwriting, but really it’s a book about the self. It shows the fragile, magical work that can be done by the novel as a form, the networks of meaning that are activated whenever fragments are collected in a collage. Empty Words triumphs in a way that represents the ultimate and total defeat of its narrator. It becomes literature.'
‘I half-wondered if Empty Words was his shot at Thomas Bernhard; in particular, the Austrian’s 1982 novel Concrete, about another sickly procrastinator blaming all and sundry for his inability to finish a book, although Levrero – at least on this evidence – feels the sunnier writer, relishing the mundane comedy of household dynamics as much as more cosmic jokes of existence. [...] As a calling card for Levrero’s talent, it’s certainly enticing.’
‘We are all his children.’
‘Levrero became a cult figure in his native Uruguay, and after reading this book it’s easy to see why.’
‘An eccentric, funny, and original novel: philosophical but playful, short but obsessive, ironic but desperate, and theoretical but intimate.’
‘Mario Levrero is the great discovery of the century for Latin American literature.’
Juan Pablo Villalobos
'Creator of one of the most intriguing, thought-provoking bodies of work in the Spanish language, Levrero is an author who challenges the canonical idea of Latin American literature. You must read him.'
‘Mario Levrero is a genius.’
Antonio Muñoz Molina
‘Style and imagination like Levrero’s are rare in Spanish-language literature.’
‘Levrero is Kafka’s ‘everyday’ flip side, a shadow of Camus with a comical take.’
‘A lighthearted wisdom beats in every sentence of Empty Words, a little masterpiece by Mario Levrero, who is, to me, one of the funniest and most influential writers of recent times. This book might change your life, or at least your handwriting.’