Luis Sepúlveda was born in Ovalle in Northern Chile in 1949. He went to school in Santiago, and then studied to become a theatre director. He was politically involved, and joined the Chilean section of the Bolivian guerrilla. His first collection of short stories, »Crónica de Pedro Nadie« (tr: Chronicle of Pedro Nobody) was published in 1969 and received the Premio Casa de las Américas. Until 1973, the year of the coup, Sepúlveda was a member of the bodyguard of President Salvador Allende. The military junta of Pinochet condemned him to two and a half years in prison. Thanks to the pressure exercised by Amnesty International he was, however, allowed to serve the time in house arrest. He fled, went underground, and joined the resistance movement against the dictatorship. Alas, he was detained again and sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment. Due to another global campaign, the punishment was changed to eight years of exile. First he went to Ecuador, where he worked as a journalist in a UNESCO-sponsored project about the Amazon River. In Nicaragua he fought with the Sandinistas and was then granted political asylum in Germany in 1980, where lived in Hamburg for ten years, before moving to France. In Germany he worked as a truck driver on the Hamburg to Istanbul route. Sepúlveda has always been a writer and a journalist. For the »Spiegel« he wrote about the war in Angola. He also writes for several international journals and newspapers, including »Le Monde Diplomatique«.
Sepúlveda’s works represent a variety of literary genres, including short stories, children’s stories, crime stories, and travelogues. While in Germany, he wrote »Los miedos, las vidas, las muertes y otras alucinaciones« (1986; tr: Fears, Lives, Deaths, and other Hallucinations) »Cuaderno de viaje« (1987; tr: The Travelogue), and »Mundo del fin del mundo« (1989; tr: The World at the End of the World), for which he received the Premio Juan Chabás for Short Fiction. His novel »Un viejo que leía novelas de amor« (1989; En. »The Old Man Who Read Love Stories«, 1995) brought him international fame and acclaim. For this book about the Amazon Forest and the Shuar culture he received the Premio Tigre Juan, a literary award for ecological issues. Sepúlveda also received the Premio France Culture Etrangêre (1992), Premio Terra (1997), and the Premio de la Crítica en Chile (2001). He published »Nombre de torero« (1994; tr: Name of the Torrero), »Diario de un killer sentimental« (1998; tr: The Diary of a Sentimental Killer), and »Hot line« (2002). »La sombra de lo que fuimos« (En. »The Shadow of What We Were«, 2011) appeared in 2009.
Sepúlveda’s texts have been translated into more than 50 languages. He is one of the most widely read Latin American writers. The author has lived in Gijón, Spain, since 1996.
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