Alfredo Bryce Echenique

Alfredo Bryce Echenique was born in Lima in 1939, the son of an affluent English-Peruvian family. He graduated in law, yet his literary interest prevailed; shortly afterwards, he completed a parallel study course in literature with a thesis on Ernest Hemingway. A year later he received a grant from the French government which, like many other Latin American authors of the Boom period, led him to Paris. At the Sorbonne he studied classic and modern French Literature and later taught at various French schools and universities. After years abroad he returned to his home city of Lima in 1999.

Following the collection of short stories »Huerto cerrado« (1968; t: Closed garden) he published his first novel »Un mundo para Julius« (1970; Eng. »A World for Julius«, 1992) which was an overwhelming success and is today considered one of the classics of Latin American literature. The novel, which has since been translated into ten languages, tells the story of a young boy who grows up the youngest of four children of a rich, upper class Peruvian family. In spite of his family background, Julius, growing up among the servants, feels a stronger bond to them, which brings him into conflict with his family. With biting irony the author exposes the great social differences in Peruvian society through the eyes of a child.

»Un mundo para Julius« marked the start of an extremely productive literary career for Bryce Echenique, in the course of which he has written to date nearly twenty novels and novellas. »I am an author of the second half of the 20th century.« Despite this declaration and his spatial and temporal closeness to other Latin American authors of the »Boom generation«, Bryce Echenique keeps a conscious distance from his colleagues. His style has more of an ironic than a magical realism, a critic once said, and this is also evident in his novel »La amigdalitis de Tarzán« (1999; Eng. »Tarzan’s tonsillitis«, 2001). Largely written in letter form, the novel tells the story of the troubled relationship between a poor Peruvian writer and the daughter of an influential Salvadorian family.

»Ein Frosch in der Wüste« (2003; OT: »Un sapo en el desierto«) is the latest work by Bryce Echenique to have been translated into German. The story combines social critique and humour. It is set in a Texan bar, where a lecturer tells three colleagues stories about his youth in Peru and his former employers from the U.S. The author’s latest novel, »Las obras infames de Pancho Marambio« (2007; t: The infamous works of Pancho Marambio) is not yet available for a German-speaking audience.

Bryce Echenique has been awarded numerous prizes, most recently the Italian Grinzane Cavour Prize and the Planeta Prize. He lives in Lima.

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