22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Jorge Volpi

Jorge Volpi was born in Mexico City in 1968, where he benefited by a classical, humanistic education. The readings of the great Mexican authors such as Juan Rulfo, Carlos Fuentes and Octavio Paz encouraged him to dedicate himself to literature despite his original aim of becoming a philosopher.  He studied Law and Literature at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and did a PhD in Spanish Philology at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain. He worked as a lawyer until 1992 and from 1992 to 1994 he was secretary of the Mexican general state lawyer Diego Valadés.

From 1994 to 1996, Volpi founded, with other Mexican authors of his generation, the literary group ‘Crack’, the aim of which was to go back to the literary roots of the ’68 generation, the authors of the Latin American “Boom”. As a “turning point generation”, they consciously disassociated themselves from North American neo-realism and magical realism.

From 1996 to 2001, Jorge Volpi lived in Salamanca.  Since then he is Mexico’s cultural attaché in Paris.  Alongside his writing he also regularly writes for magazines such as ‘Leteras Libras’, ‘Viceversa’ and ‘Lettre International’. Additionally he was a juror of the Dublin-IMPAC Prize for Literature 2002.

Jorge Volpi is primarily known as a writer of novels and essays.  His up until now most successful book, ‘En busca de Klingsor’ (1999, Engl: In Search of Klingsor), where he attempts to combine both forms, won him the renown Spanish literary prize ‘Premio Biblioteca Breve’ as well as the French ‘Deux-Océans-Grinzane-Cavour-Prize’. Like other post-modern authors, Volpi is also for the dissolution of the usual genre borders.

His passion for physics gave the young Mexican author the idea to narratively present the history of modern science, which for him is also a ‘history of coincidence’, using the example of the great physicists of the 20th century.  ‘En busca de Klingsor’ is the story of a search: during the trials of Nuremberg in 1946, an accused confesses that, upon the request of a high ranking researcher, called Klingsor, Jews were killed for scientific purposes. When a young American physicist and a German mathematician are given the job of finding out more about this person, their search leads them to the great scientific figures of the time: Gödel, Einstein, Planck, Heisenberg…

The jurors of the ‘Premio Biblioteca Breve’ praised the work of the Mexican, especially the “successful fusion of science with history, politics and literature to form what we would describe as culture.” Parallels with ‘The War of the End of the World’ by Mario Vargas Llosa, ‘Terra Nostra’ by Carlos Fuentes or Umberto Eco’s ‘In the Name of the Rose’ are not to be underestimated.
‘En busca de Klingsor’ forms the first part of a trilogy that was followed by “El fin de la locura” (2003; t: The end of madness) and was currently completed with “No será la tierra” (2006; t: It was not the earth). Volpi deals with the social changes of the last decades in Latin America and Europe against the backcloth of latest technological developments and world shattering events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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