Contemporary Argentine author
César Aira was born in Coronel Pringles, Argentina in 1949, and has lived in Buenos Aires since 1967. He taught at the University of Buenos Aires (about Copi and Rimbaud) and at the University of Rosario (Constructivism and Mallarmé), and has translated and edited books from France, England, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and Venezuela. Perhaps one of the most prolific writers in Argentina, and certainly one of the most talked about in Latin America, Aira has published more than eighty books to date in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, and Spain, which have been translated for France, Great Britain, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Romania, Russia, and now the United States. One novel, La prueba, has been made into a feature film, and How I Became a Nun was chosen as one of Argentina’s ten best books. Besides essays and novels Aira writes regularly for the Spanish newspaper El País. In 1996 he received a Guggenheim scholarship, and in 2002 he was short listed for the Rómulo Gallegos prize.
“The book teems with delightful, off-the-cuff metaphysical speculation.”
“Dense, unpredictable confections delivered in a plain, stealthily lyrical style capable of accommodating his fondness for mixing metaphysics, realism, pulp fiction, and Dadaist incongruities.”
“Here's my request [to New Directions]: give us something written on this side of the 20th century – after Argentina experienced its 2001 economic collapse ... I want to see Aira process a society unhinged and chaotic – you know, like ours is right now. My suggestion: Shantytown, an absurdist rending of life in a downtown Buenos Aires Hooverville.”