Mario Levrero

The Luminous Novel

‘Perhaps the luminous novel is this thing that I started writing today, just now. Maybe these sheets of paper are a warm-up exercise. […] But it’s quite possible that if I go on writing – as I usually do – with no plan, although this time I know very well what I want to say, things will start to take shape, to come together. I can feel the familiar taste of a literary adventure in my throat. I’ll take that as confirmation, then, and start describing what I think was the beginning of my spiritual awakening – though nobody should expect religious sermons at this point; they’ll come later. It all began with some ruminations prompted by a dog.’

A writer attempts to complete the novel for which he has been awarded a big fat Guggenheim grant, though for a long time he succeeds mainly in procrastinating – getting an electrician to rewire his living room so he can reposition his computer, buying an armchair, or rather, two: ‘In one, you can’t possibly read: it’s uncomfortable and your back ends up crooked and sore. In the other, you can’t possibly relax: the hard backrest means you have to sit up straight and pay attention, which makes it ideal if you want to read.’

Insomniacs, romantics and anyone who’s ever written (or failed to write) will fall in love with this compelling masterpiece told by a true original, with all his infuriating faults, charming wit and intriguing musings.

Paperback: £14.99
EBook: £6.99
Print status: Upcoming
Translator: Annie McDermott
Original language: Spanish
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 3 August 2021
ISBN: 9781913505011
Ebook ISBN: 9781913505028
Availability: World English
Number of pages: 544


Alejandro Zambra

‘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.’

Praise for Empty Words

'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.' Adam Thirlwell, London Review of Books


‘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.’ Anthony Cummins, The Guardian


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


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