Rediscover: Sergio Pitol

Mexican author and translator Sergio Pitol died last month at age 85. In 2005, he was awarded the Cervantes Prize, given for lifetime achievements in Spanish literature. Pitol spoke seven languages, and brought the works of Jane Austen, Henry James, Joseph Conrad and Polish Nobel Laureate Witold Gombrowicz to Spanish-speaking readers. Pitol's own writing is a genre-bending mix of essay, fiction and memoir that made him an important figure in contemporary Spanish literature. As King Juan Carlos I of Spain said in 2005, Pitol's works had "seduced us with the truth."

Pitol's most acclaimed work is his Trilogy of Memory: The Art of Flight (1996), The Journey (2000) and The Magician of Vienna (2005), in which he merges autobiography, fiction, travelogue and dreams. "He didn't write the way that was expected from a Latin American writer, like García Márquez," said author Margo Glantz. "His work broke all those molds, and it is one of the reasons his literature was less read and translated to other languages." The Trilogy of Memory was only recently translated into English by George Henson between 2015 and 2017. The Magician of Vienna was longlisted for the 2018 Best Translated Book Award and is available from Deep Vellum Publishing, along with the rest of the trilogy. On November 6, 2018, Deep Vellum will publish Mephisto's Waltz: Selected Short Stories ($15.95, 9781941920831). --Tobias Mutter

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