Martínez, Guillermo 1962–
Martínez, Guillermo 1962–
PERSONAL: Born July 29, 1962, in Bahía Blanca, Argentina. Education: Holds a Ph.D.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Carmen Balcells Agency, Diagonal 580 (08021), Barcelona, Spain. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer and mathematician.
AWARDS, HONORS: Premio del Fondo de las Artes, 1988, for Infierno Grande; Fundación Antorchas scholarship, 1999; MacDowell scholarships, 2000, 2001; Premio Planeta, 2003, for Crímenes imperceptibles; Civitella Ranieri Foundation scholarship, 2004.
Acerca de Roderer (novel), Planeta (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1992, translated by Laura Dail as Regarding Roderer, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.
La mujer del maestro (novel), Planeta (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1998.
Crímenes imperceptibles (novel), Planeta (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 2003, translated by Sonia Soto as The Oxford Murders, MacAdam/Cage (New York, NY), 2005.
Borges y la matemática, Editorial Universitaria de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 2003.
La fórmula de la inmortalidad, Seix Barral (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 2005.
Contributor of short stories to anthologies; also contributor of reviews to periodicals, including La Nación. Author's writings have been translated into several languages.
ADAPTATIONS: Crímenes imperceptibles has been adapted for film, directed by Alex de la Iglesia.
SIDELIGHTS: Argentinian author Guillermo Martínez has written several novels and short stories, earning him some of his country's top literary prizes. Martínez is the author of six books, two of which have been translated into English. The first translation, Regarding Roderer, was published in 1994. The novel's protagonist is a schoolboy—the unnamed first-person narrator—and his position as the smartest boy in class is threatened by the arrival of new student Gustavo Roderer. The boys begin a fragile friendship; ultimately, the narrator's sister falls in love with Gustavo, but Gustavo is more interested in thinking than he is in being in love. Indeed, Gustavo lives only to come up with a philosophical thought that has not been thought of before. As both boys grow older, the narrator, who is much more of a pragmatist than his companion, enters college and then goes, briefly, to fight in the Malvinas/Falklands war. Gustavo, on the other hand, continues his abstract intellectual pursuits, falls sick, and dies alone.
The novel, which was described by critics as brief and ascetic, received high appraisal in Argentina and mixed reviews in the United States. A Publishers Weekly reviewer stated that the story rests upon Gustavo's decline, yet "the narrator's voice, which seems sometimes selfishly recalcitrant, does little to generate interest" in Gustavo. Nonetheless, the reviewer did find the book to be "provocative." Moreover, Brad Hooper, writing in Booklist, found much to praise in the novel. After calling the novel "austere," Hooper stated that the story "transcends any cultural attachments to reveal universal truths."
Martínez's second book in English translation, The Oxford Murders, was published eleven years after the release of Regarding Roderer. The book draws on Martínez's background as a mathematician, a subject in which the author holds a doctorate. Set in Oxford, England, the story portrays a young Argentinian student of mathematics and his mentor, a logician named Arthur Seldom. The student, who is also the narrator, again remains nameless. When the narrator's landlady, a retired mathematician herself, is killed, a note from the killer, complete with mathematical clues is sent to Arthur. As the student and Arthur attempt to solve the crime, more murders are committed, and new notes with clues begin to appear.
Most critics reacted positively to the use of math as a plot device; they argued that it added an intriguing intellectual aspect to the murder-mystery story. Booklist contributor Connie Fletcher felt that the "fascinating applications of logical sequences" are an "extreme" version of the work of famous mystery-novelist Agatha Christie. London Independent reviewer Emma Hagestadt stated: "Read it, and be temporarily convinced that applied mathematics is suddenly within your grasp." Critics additionally praised Martínez's writing style; while a Kirkus Reviews writer called the book "soft-spoken, smart and satisfying," a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that Martínez "writes with a restrained, elegant style."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 1, 1994, Brad Hooper, review of Regarding Roderer, p. 475; September 1, 2005, Connie Fletcher, review of The Oxford Murders, p. 70.
Independent (London, England), January 27, 2006, Emma Hagestadt, review of The Oxford Murders.
Guardian (London, England), February 5, 2005, Marcus du Sautoy, review of The Oxford Murders.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2005, review of The Oxford Murders, p. 809.
Publishers Weekly, September 19, 1994, review of Regarding Roderer, p. 50; August 1, 2005, review of The Oxford Murders, p. 41.
San Francisco Chronicle, October 2, 2005, David Lazarus, review of The Oxford Murders.
Times (London, England), March 12, 2005, Marcel Berlins, review of The Oxford Murders.