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Overview


"Elegant” —Marie Claire

"Funny and revelatory." —New York Times Book Review

"Deeply accessible, deeply moving." —Los Angeles Times

The Polish Boxer covers a vast landscape of human experience while enfolding a search for origins: a grandson tries to make sense of his Polish grandfather's past and the story behind his numbered tattoo; a Serbian classical pianist longs for his forbidden heritage; a Mayan poet is torn between his studies and filial obligations; a striking young Israeli woman seeks answers in Central America; a university professor yearns for knowledge that he can't find in books and discovers something unexpected at a Mark Twain conference. Drawn to what lies beyond the range of reason, they all reach for the beautiful and fleeting, whether through humor, music, poetry, or unspoken words. Across his encounters with each of them, the narrator—a Guatemalan literature professor and writer named Eduardo Halfon—pursues his most enigmatic subject: himself.

Mapping the geography of identity in a world scarred by a legacy of violence and exile, The Polish Boxer marks the debut of a major new Latin American voice in English.

Eduardo Halfon was named one of the best young Latin American writers by the Hay Festival of Bogotá and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the prestigious José María de Pereda Prize for the Short Novel. The Polish Boxer, his first book to appear in English, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and finalist for the International Latino Book Award. Halfon is currently the Harman Writer in Residence at Baruch College in New York and travels frequently between his homes in Nebraska and Guatemala.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781934137536
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
Publication date: 10/02/2012
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 654,647
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author


Eduardo Halfon was born in Guatemala City, moved to the United States at the age of ten, went to school in South Florida, studied Industrial Engineering at North Carolina State University, and then returned to Guatemala to teach literature for eight years at Universidad Francisco Marroquín. Named one of the best young Latin American writers by the Hay Festival of Bogotá, he is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the prestigious José María de Pereda Prize for the Short Novel. He has published eleven previous books of fiction in Spanish. The Polish Boxer, his first book to appear in English, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and finalist for the International Latino Book Award. Halfon is currently the Harman Writer in Residence at Baruch College in New York and travels frequently between his homes in Nebraska and Guatemala.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

New York Times “Editor’s Choice”
Los Angeles Times “Holiday Gift Recommendation”
San Francisco Chronicle “Top Shelf” selection
Shelf Unbound Top 10 Book of the Year
Jewish Week “Fall Arts Preview” selection
Publishers Weekly “First Fiction” selection
Jewish Book Council “Weekly Book Recommendation”
Book Expo America “Big Book”
Northern California Independent Booksellers Association “Most Talked About Book”

“Funny and revelatory.” —New York Times Book Review

“Elegant” —Marie Claire

“Deeply accessible, deeply moving.” —Los Angeles Times

“A professor mentors a student, gains wisdom from a Mark Twain scholar and searches for a Gypsy musician, and that’s only part of the story in this incredible, achingly real yet enigmatic novel.” —San Francisco Chronicle, “Top Shelf” Recommendations from Bay Area independent bookstores

“Stimulating and inspiring.” —Independent (UK)

“Tight and lean . . . falling somewhere between the novels of Roberto Bolaño, WG Sebald, and Junot Díaz.” —Telegraph (UK)

“[The Polish Boxer] exists in the no-man’s-land between fiction and memoir. In the end, we decide, this is fable: only the stories are important.” —Guardian (UK)

“Beautiful and provocative . . . a wonderful read which begs to be re-read.” —Jewish Book World

“This book provides multiple pleasures: clear, intense prose; sharp, laugh-out-loud depictions of classrooms and conferences . . . and the apparent seamlessness of the translations . . . . The book itself gives a resounding retort to those who might dismiss it as ‘another’ book ‘about’ the Holocaust.” —Jewish Journal

“Halfon passionately and lyrically illustrates the significance of the journey and the beauty of true mystery. The Polish Boxer is sublime and arresting, and will linger with readers who will be sure to revisit it again and again.” —Booklist

“These are the stories of life . . . the question of survival (of both people and cultures) and the way the fictional makes the real bearable and intelligible.” —Publishers Weekly

“Highly readable and engaging . . . provides readers food for thought about the nature of literary creations.” —Library Journal

“Brilliant . . . opens with one of the best classroom scenes I’ve ever read.” —Shelf Awareness for Readers

“In the simplest explanation, The Polish Boxer is a series of encounters for literature professor Eduardo—with a young poet, university professors at a Mark Twain conference, his grandfather, his charming girlfriend, who draws her orgasms, and Milan Rackic, a Serbian-Gypsy pianist. In the more complex explanation, it is a journey of self-discovery.” —ForeWord Reviews

“Eduardo Halfon has been deemed one of the best young Latin American writers by the Hay Festival of Bogota; read his first work to be translated into English, The Polish Boxer, and you’ll see why.” —Shelf Unbound

“A brave and touching and dead stylish examination of the nature of fiction, truth and lies.” —Dazed & Confused (UK)

“Halfon’s curiosity about his grandfather’s experience in a concentration camp burns through every chapter from the most subtle level to deep investigation . . . He has succeeded in warping a modern Balkan mystery into a Holocaust memoir . . . intrinsically blend[ing] fiction with reality in a deeply visceral way.” —Rumpus

The Polish Boxer immediately seduced me; on the first page, I felt the spark of recognition that comes from reading something with actual depth and import.” —Full Stop

“The tales are spellbinding, the prose is magnificent, and several parts will make you laugh out loud.” —Gozamos

“Eduardo Halfon is a brilliant storyteller, whose gifts are displayed on every page of this beautiful, daring, and deeply humane book.” —DANIEL ALARCÓN, author of War by Candlelight and Lost City Radio

“Eduardo Halfon’s prose is delicate, precise, and as ineffable as precocious art—a lighthouse that illuminates everything.” —FRANCISCO GOLDMAN, author of Say Her Name

The Polish Boxer is the most memorable new novel I have read all year—the voice pitch-perfect, the imagery indelible. What a wonderful writer.” —NORMAN LEBRECHT, author of The Song of Names

The Polish Boxer is an enchanting, unclassifiable book of encounters, impressions, and improvisations: a book for the ages, which can be read in one sitting, and then again, and again, and again.” —CHRISTOPHER MERRILL, director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and author of The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War

“It is not often that one encounters such a mix of personal engagement and literary passion, or pain and tenderness.” —ANDRÉS NEUMAN, author of Traveler of the Century

“Eduardo Halfon belongs to a new generation of Latin American writers who, from the beginning, demonstrate an impeccable mastery of their craft, without any hesitation in the use of language.” —SERGIO RAMÍREZ, former Vice President of Nicaragua and author of Margarita, How Beautiful the Sea

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