The Diaries of Emilio Renzi. Formative years

Ricardo Piglia


Readers of Ricardo Piglia will undoubtedly be familiar with Emilio Renzi, the writer and alter-ego who constantly appears in his novels, at times as the protagonist and others in just a cameo. Where did Renzi come from? A play on the author's full name: Ricardo Emilio Piglia Renzi. Now Piglia is taking the game a step further with these diaries under Renzi's name. After a splendid literary career that has produced several fundamental novels and critical works in Argentine literature, the author looks back to the diaries he kept for over half a century, between 1957 and 2015, which also include several stories and essays directly related to them.
This monumental project will be published in three volumes: Años de formación (Formative Years), Los años felices (The Happy Years) and Un día en la vida (A Day in the Life). The first covers the years between 1957 and 1967 and starts with a budding writer at just eighteen years old. "How does someone become a writer - or how are they turned into a writer? It isn't a vocation, perish the thought, it's more like a mania, habit or addiction: if you stop doing it you feel bad but needing to do it is ridiculous. In the end it becomes a way of life (just like any other)."

These pages reveal Renzi's first reads - In Search of the Castaways by Jules Verne, The Plague by Camus, The Business of Living by Pavese, Defoe, Sterne, De Quincey, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Proust, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemingway and Gadda - the films and directors the young author was devoted to - Bergman, Wilder, Visconti, Wajda and Godard, but also one or two featuring James Bond - a geography - Adrogué, Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires - and of course, life: first loves; university studies, enthusiasms, rebellions and disappointments; discoveries and surprises in life and culture; emotional break-ups and erratically paid work - becoming a freelance editor after the army took over the university - the small cultural world of the time in the shadow of the giants Borges and Cortázar, and meetings with Rodolfo Walsh, Haroldo Conti, Edgardo Cozarinsky, Daniel Moyano and the director Leopoldo Torre Nilsson; the emergence of the first stories and a project for a novel. All this is documented carefully, compulsively and passionately in diaries written by a master of Argentine literature, or perhaps his alter-ego.

'Two lives of unredeemed diarist', article in Babelia about "The Diaries of Emilio Renzi" by Ricardo Piglia. (Spanish)

'A first look about Piglia by Renzi and vice versa' in Télam. (Spanish)

Article in The Nation 'The Diaries of Piglia, signed by Renzi'. (Spanish)

"Both amazing and revelatory,

Emilio Renzi is the best of Piglia."

Iván Thays


"His most luminous and representative work. A real masterpiece.

Piglia takes us to the true centre where life and literature definitively meet."

J. A. Masoliver Ródenas


"This incredible book occupies pride of place in my memoir bookshelf."

Manuel Rodríguez Rivero


"Essential for regular readers of Piglia, necessary for anyone

interested in recent Argentine literature."

Nadal Suau, El Cultural


"The Diaries of Emilio Renzi is one of the most interesting explorations

of the Author/Character issue."

Rodrigo Fresán


"The culmination of a literary oeuvre."

Patricio Pron


"A portentous book."

Leila Guerriero


Other titles from Ricardo Piglia:

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