Volpi, Jorge 1968–
Volpi, Jorge 1968–
(Jorge Volpi Escalante)
PERSONAL: Born 1968, in Mexico City, Mexico. Education: Independent National University of Mexico, graduated; University of Salamanca, Spain, Ph.D.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Editorial Seix Barral, Avda Diagonal 662-664, 7° Barcelona 08034, Spain.
CAREER: Novelist, essayist, diplomat, and attorney. Worked as an attorney, until 1992; secretary to Mexican general state lawyer Diego Valadés, 1992–94; Mexican cultural attachée and director of Mexican Cultural Center, Paris, France, 2001–. Writer-in-residence, Emory College.
AWARDS, HONORS: Premio Biblioteca Breve, Seix Barral, 1999, for En busca de Klingsor; Deux-Océans-Grinzane-Cavour prize (France); Guggenheim fellowship.
A pesar del oscuro silencio, J. Mortiz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1992.
(With Elroy Urroz and Ignacio Padilla) Tres bosquejos del mal, Siglo Vientiuno Editores (Mexico), 1994.
La paz de los sepulcros, Editorial Aldus (Mexico), 1995.
El temperamento melancólico, Nueva Imagen (Mexico), 1996.
Sanar tu piel amarga, Nueva Imagen (Mexico), 1997.
La imaginación y el poder: una historia intellectual de 1968, Ediciones Era (Mexico), 1998.
En busca de Klingsor, Seix Barral (Barcelona, Spain), 1999, translated by Kristina Cordero as In Search of Klingsor, Scribner (New York, NY), 2002.
Juego del apocalipsis: un viaje a Patmos, Plaza y Janes Editores (Mexico), 2001.
El fin de la locura, Seix Barral (Barcelona, Spain), 2003.
La guerra y las palabras: una historia del alzamiento zapatista de 1994, Seix Barral (Barcelona, Spain), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including Leteras Libras, Viceversa, and Lettre International.
Volpi's works have been translated into nineteen languages.
SIDELIGHTS: A diplomat who has served as Mexico's cultural attaché and as director of the Mexican cultural center in France, Jorge Volpi is also an author who is known for his novels and essays. A cofounder of the literary group Crack, Volpi and his peers rejected the neo-realism and magical realism that had become dominant in Latin America by the 1980s and 1990s. "Like other post-modern authors, Volpi is also for the dissolution of the usual genre borders," noted a biographer for Culturebase.net. Volpi's novel In Search of Klingsor, for instance, mingles a number of genres to produce a unified whole. The author combines a mystery with a history of science and a political narrative to create "a crackling spy thriller while delivering a thoughtful treatise on the nature of love and deception," commented Booklist reviewer Brendan Dowling.
In Search of Klingsor concerns the search by narrator Gustav Links and young scientist Francis Bacon for a mysterious Nazi scientist known only as Klingsor. One of Adolf Hitler's masterminds during World War II, Klingsor is thought to have been in charge of much of the Third Reich's scientific research; in particular, he is thought to have been the one who ordered the Jews to be used in terrible scientific experiments. Sent to Germany after the war to investigate inconsistencies in the Nuremberg trials, Bacon instead becomes obsessed with finding the identity of Klingsor and locating the shadowy figure if he—or she—is still alive. Along the way, Bacon encounters legendary scientists such as Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Goedel, Einstein, Bohrs, and others. Klingsor, Bacon knows, might even be one of these brilliant individuals, or he might have been Hitler himself; or he might not have existed at all. As events unfold, Bacon is seduced by a beautiful Russian spy. While doubts and suspicions arise, Links's narrative, told in flashbacks from a German psychiatric hospital in 1989, casts doubt on the veracity of the whole story.
"Broad in scope and supremely ambitious, this novel … succeeds at several levels" as a thriller, as a scientific search for truth, and as a literary work, commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. With In Search of Klingsor Volpi "has made an enormous leap that is worthy of our consideration," remarked World Literature Today reviewer Ilan Stavans. The book is "a Latin American novel with absolutely no connection to the continent," continued Stavans, the critic adding that "it might become a torchbearer in an artistic movement south of the Rio Grande that does not hold literature hostage to its immediate locale." Chad W. Post, writing in the Review of Contemporary Fiction, concluded that In Search of Klingsor is "an impressive and playful English-language debut from an author likely to become one of Mexico's premier writers."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2002, Brendan Dowling, review of In Search of Klingsor, p. 1689.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2002, review of In Search of Klingsor, p. 698.
Library Journal, July, 2002, Harold Augenbraum, review of In Search of Klingsor, p. 124.
Publishers Weekly, May 27, 2002, review of In Search of Klingsor, p. 31.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, spring, 2003, Chad W. Post, review of In Search of Klingsor, p. 141.
Time International, October 15, 2002, Carol Buia, "Goodbye, Magic Realism. Hello, Crack Generation," profile of Jorge Volpi, p. 55.
World and I, January, 2003, Steve Dowden, "History, Sex, and Physics," review of In Search of Klingsor, p. 226.
World Literature Today, summer, 2000, Ilan Stavans, review of En busca de Klingsor, p. 677.
Babab.com, http://www.babab.com/ (March 13, 2006), biography of Jorge Volpi.
Culturebase.net, http://www.culturebase.net/ (March 13, 2006), biography of Jorge Volpi.
Vancouver International Writers Festival Web site, http://www.writersfest.bc.ca/ (March 13, 2006), biography of Jorge Volpi.