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Mario Benedetti

MARIO BENEDETTI (September 14, 1920 – May 17, 2009), born in Pasa de los Toros, Tacuarembó Province, Uruguay, was one of Latin America’s most renowned and beloved writers. As a poet, novelist, essayist, critic, journalist, playwright, songwriter, and screenwriter, Benedetti’s vast body of work encompasses every genre and is known worldwide. He wrote for magazines, newspapers, and various periodicals and journals in Uruguay, Argentina, and Mexico. In addition, selections of his work are represented in anthologies published in Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, England, Italy, United States, Israel, Venezuela, and Spain. He received numerous prizes for literature, including the Premio Ministerio de Instrucción Pública, Premio Municipal de Literatura, Simposio del Comisión del Teatro Municipal, Concurso Seix Barral in Barcelona, Concurso Periodístico de SAS, Premio Cámara del Libro, Medalla Félix Varela al Merito, Mejor Obra Extranjera in Mexico, Premio Llama de Oro Amnistía Internacional, Premio Jristo Botev de Bulgaria, Medalla Haydeé Santamaría, VIII Premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana, Premio Iberoamericano José Martí, Premio Etnosur, the XIX Premio Internacional Menéndez Pelayo, La Orden de Francisco de Miranda, and several Doctor Honoris Causa.
Besides having written a full-length study of 20th century Uruguayan literature, he is the author of more than ninety books and his work has been translated into twenty-six languages, including Braille. He resided in Montevideo since 1985 and devoted his full time to writing until his death in Montevideo on May 17th, 2009.

The Diary of Martín Santomé: A Novel

This is the second English translation of the novel, La Tregua by Mario Benedetti that was first published by Editorial Nueva Imagen, S.A. in 1960. Originally translated by Benjamin Graham and published in 1969 by Harper & Row as The Truce, the novel is long out of print in English. The Rail will be serializing this Benedetti masterpiece over the winter and into the spring of 2012.

The Diary of Martín Santomé: A Novel

Time flies. Sometimes I think I should live hurriedly instead of trying to get the most out of these remaining years. These days, after having scrutinized my wrinkles, anyone can say to me: “But you’re still a young man.” Still. But how many years are left in “still.”


This must be the thirtieth departure. It’s a procedure that Fernando Varengo knows only too well. As a witness, of course; not as a traveler.

The Diary of Martín Santomé: A Novel

I don’t see my children very often. Especially Jaime. It’s interesting, because it’s Jaime in particular who I would especially like to see more often. Of the three of them, he’s the only one with a sense of humor.

The Diary of Martín Santomé: A Novel

The dullest May Day in world history. To make matters worse, it was a gray, rainy, and prematurely wintry day. There were no people, buses, or anything in the streets. And me in my room, in my single bed, in this dark, heavy silence of seven-thirty.

The Diary of Martín Santomé: A Novel

It’s hard to believe, but I hadn’t seen Aníbal since he returned from Brazil at the beginning of May. He made me happy when he called yesterday. I needed to talk to someone, confide in someone.

The Diary of Martín Santomé: A Novel

The party is over. Back to the office again tomorrow. I’m thinking about the sales reports, the soft eraser, the carbon copy books, the checkbooks, the manager’s voice – and then my stomach turns.

from Who Among Us

Who Among Ustakes place in Montevideo, but this is merely circumstantial because the most prevalent element of this work is the psychological delving into each characters’ mind and not the monitoring of a social atmosphere.

The Sweethearts

At first, I would greet her from my sidewalk and she would respond with a nervous and instantaneous gesture. Afterwards, she would leap away, striking her knuckles against the walls, and, upon arriving at the corner, vanish without looking back. From the beginning, I liked her long face, her disdainful agility, and her striking blue jacket that looked more like a boy’s.

The Diary of Martín Santomé: A Novel

The manager called me into his office. I could never stand that man; he’s so marvelously common and cowardly. On a few occasions he’s tried to bare his soul to me, his abstract existence, and I’ve encountered a repulsive image.

Wounds and Contusions (Political Acts )

“Graciela,” said the girl, with a cup in her hand, “do you want some lemonade?” She’s dressed in a white blouse, jeans and sandals. Her hair is long and black, although not too long, and is tied at the back of her neck with a yellow ribbon. Her skin is very white and she’s nine years old, maybe ten. “I’ve already told you not to call me Graciela.”

Exiles (A Man in a Lobby)

I met Dr. Siles Zuazo in Montevideo twenty years ago, when he arrived in Uruguay as an exile (the word was pronounced differently then) following the triumph of one of the many military coups that have always corrupted the history of Bolivia. I had a few books published at the time and worked in the bookkeeping section of a large furniture company.

Exiles (Penultimate Resting Place)

The death of a friend (and more so when one is referring to someone as dear as Luvis Pedemonte) is always a heartbreak, a rupture. But when death is the culmination of his troubles in exile, and even if that death occurs in a location as fraternal as this one, the heartbreak has other implications, some other significance.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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