Empty Words cover
Mario Levrero

Empty Words

An eccentric novelist decides to go back to basics on his journey of self- improvement: he will strip out the literary aspect of his writing and simply improve his handwriting. The novelist begins to keep a notebook of handwriting exercises, hoping that if he is able to improve his penmanship, his personal character will also improve. What begins as a mere physical exercise becomes involuntarily coloured by humorous reflections and tender anecdotes about living, writing, and the sense – and nonsense – of existence.

The first book by Mario Levrero to be translated into English, Empty Words is the perfect introduction to a major author and a significant point of reference in Latin American writing today.

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More Info

  • Read Adam Thirlwell’s LRB piece on Empty Words, the first novel by Mario Levrero to appear in English translation.
  • Read Levrero translator Annie McDermott’s piece on our Ampersand blog about her trip to Uruguay, where she learned more about Mario Levrero’s lasting impact, including a school of writing and socks.
  • Read more on Juan Pablo Villalobos’s thoughts on Levrero, here
  • If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before 20 January 2019, you would have received a first edition copy of Empty Words – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – before its official publication, as well us five other And Other Stories titles per year. Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.
Print status: Available
Translator: Annie McDermott
Original language: Spanish
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 13 June 2019
ISBN: 9781911508502
Ebook ISBN: 9781911508519
Availability: UK, EUR & Comm (excl Can)
Number of pages: 152


Adam Thirlwell
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.'

Anthony Cummins
The Guardian

‘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.’

Álvaro Enrigue

‘We are all his children.’

David Hebblethwaite
Splice Magazine

‘Levrero became a cult figure in his native Uruguay, and after reading this book it’s easy to see why.’

Dana Spiotta

‘An eccentric, funny, and original novel: philosophical but playful, short but obsessive, ironic but desperate, and theoretical but intimate.’

Revista Ñ

‘Mario Levrero is the great discovery of the century for Latin American literature.’

Juan Pablo Villalobos
Granta Magazine

'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.'

Enrique Fogwill

‘Mario Levrero is a genius.’

Antonio Muñoz Molina

‘Style and imagination like Levrero’s are rare in Spanish-language literature.’

El Pais

‘Levrero is Kafka’s ‘everyday’ flip side, a shadow of Camus with a comical take.’

Alejandro Zambra

‘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.’