A Last Supper of Queer Apostles: Selected Essays (Paperback)

A Last Supper of Queer Apostles: Selected Essays By Pedro Lemebel, Gwendolyn Harper (Editor), Gwendolyn Harper (Translated by), Gwendolyn Harper (Introduction by), Gwendolyn Harper (Notes by), Idra Novey (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Pedro Lemebel, Gwendolyn Harper (Editor), Gwendolyn Harper (Translated by), Gwendolyn Harper (Introduction by), Gwendolyn Harper (Notes by), Idra Novey (Foreword by)
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A galvanizing look at life on the margins of society by a crowning figure of Latin America's queer counterculture who celebrated “melodrama, kitsch, extravagance, and vulgarity of all kinds” (Garth Greenwell) in playful, performative, linguistically inventive essays, now available in English for the first time

A Penguin Classic

“I speak from my difference,” wrote Pedro Lemebel, an openly queer writer and artist living through Chile’s AIDS epidemic and the collapse of the Pinochet dictatorship. In brilliantly innovative essays—known as crónicas—that combine memoir, reportage, fiction, history, and poetry, he brought visibility and dignity to sexual minorities, the poor, and the powerless. Touching on everything from Che Guevara to Elizabeth Taylor, from the aftermath of authoritarian rule to the daily lives of Chile’s locas—a slur for trans women and effeminate gay men that he boldly reclaims—his writing infuses political urgency with playfulness, realism with absurdism, and resistance with camp, and his AIDS crónicas immortalize a generation of Chileans doubly “disappeared” by casting each loca, as she falls sick, in the starring role of her own private tragedy. This volume brings together the best of his work, introducing readers of English to the subversive genius of a literary activist and queer icon whose acrobatic explorations of the Santiago demimonde reverberate around the world.

About the Author

Pedro Lemebel (1952–2015) is considered one of the most important queer writers of twentieth-century Latin America and was also an activist and a performance artist. Born in Santiago, Chile, he became a renowned voice of Latin American counterculture during the Pinochet dictatorship and its aftermath. He received Chile’s José Donoso Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is best known for his crónicas and one novel, My Tender Matador, which has been translated into more than a dozen languages and was adapted in 2020 into a critically acclaimed film by Chilean director Rodrigo Sepúlveda.

Gwendolyn Harper (editor/translator) won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Work in Progress grant from the Robert B. Silvers Foundation for A Last Supper of Queer Apostles. She holds an MFA from Brown University.

Idra Novey (foreword) is the award-winning author of the novels Ways to Disappear, Those Who Knew, and Take What You Need. She lived in Chile for several years, returns often, and has translated work by various Chilean writers, including Nona Fernández and Marco Antonio de la Parra. Her own work has been translated into a dozen languages, and she’s written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Guardian. She teaches fiction writing at Princeton University.

Praise For…

“What a joy for English readers to at last meet this humanist provocateur who celebrates and memorializes queer lives in a fascist state with fire, love, and a tireless spirit of play.” —Publishers Weekly

“[Lemebel] speaks brilliantly for a difference that refuses to disappear.” —Garth Greenwell, The New Yorker

“Lemebel doesn’t have to write poetry to be the best poet of my generation. . . . No one goes deeper than Lemebel. And also, as if that weren’t enough, Lemebel is courageous. That is, he knows how to open his eyes in darkness, in those territories where no one dares enter. . . . When everyone who has treated him like dirt is lost in the cesspit or in nothingness, Pedro Lemebel will still be a star.” Roberto Bolaño, author of 2666 and The Savage Detectives

“If the world were just, Pedro Lemebel would take his rightful place on the throne of literary royalty; although I’m certain he’d reject something as anti-democratic as monarchy. A Last Supper of Queer Apostles cements his place in the canon—the literary one, the queer one, the Chilean one, the Latin American one, the human one. This collection of devastatingly gay and unabashedly political essays is, in fact, a quiver of exquisite arrows, each dipped in the blood and bile of love and hate, the only tincture with the viscosity of truth. On every one of these electrifying and gorgeously written pages—brilliantly translated by Gwendolyn Harper—Lemebel spills anti-fascist tea in dizzying prose that spins us ever closer to the collective liberation he was seeking. All hail this queen.” —Alejandro Varela, National Book Award finalist for The Town of Babylon

“[Lemebel’s writing is] provocative, strange, very Chilean, cantankerous, bitter, funny, sentimental, sharp, elegant, entirely legible and at the same time complex. . . . His work was forged in the night, in the barrio, in life and not in literature. . . . His books changed lives.” —Alejandro Zambra, author of Multiple Choice and Chilean Poet

“The summary effect of reading Pedro Lemebel’s shattering indictment of the American-backed Pinochet regime, of being faced with the caustic rage embedded in it, corresponds to standing transfixed in front of Picasso’s Guernica, the lightbulb eyeball glaring down at the carnage below, the ocular shriek a fitting match for the illuminating text of A Last Supper of Queer Apostles, with its story of death and resurrection.” —James McCourt, author of Time Remaining and Queer Street

“Lemebel said he writes from difference, and my god, what a difference. His writing is everything except boring—courageous, beautiful, vile, glorious, provocative, comforting, angry, loving, exquisite, and full of delicious venom. Reading a great writer makes life better. Reading Lemebel makes me want to live better.” —Rabih Alamaddine, author of An Unnecessary Woman

“Reading these powerfully intimate essays makes me feel like I know Pedro Lemebel. His friends are now my friends. The clothes they wore, the way the danced, the way they died—all this will live on in my memory as if I’d always had them in my life.” —Joe Westmoreland, author of Tramps Like Us

“A remarkable and radically uncompromising chronicle of queer life in anti-queer times . . . Gwendolyn Harper’s translation is astoundingly good. It allowed me to feel that I was being spoken to directly. And to know that Lemebel’s personality, his poetry, his love, his grief, his anger, his generosity, his voice, are all still with us, and still true. Pedro Lemebel is alive! And I am in love.” —Keith Ridgway, author of Hawthorn and Child and A Shock
“A truly astonishing body of work . . . Images so alarming and original leap from every page, you come to believe that if you were to tear a page it would bleed scarlet. . . . The writings of a curbside saint laboring serene under a weight of genius.” —Lauren John Joseph, author of At Certain Points We Touch

“This book reminds me of Jean Genet, of the late great Juan Goytisolo—of everything that I love about truly queer writing. It shares their rage, their laughter, their fierceness, and their courage. A truly sensational addition to our collective heritage.” —Neil Bartlett, author of Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall

“Extraordinary . . . A testament to the far more varied and beautiful truths about who lives and falls in love in Chile, be­yond the fathers that have dominated its literature . . . Prepare to be wrecked and resurrected, to be pulled into the world of char­acters who come immediately to life and who will not leave you. . . . Lemebel had a tremendous gift for unexpected metaphors, for how to conjure the singularity of a person through one strik­ing sensual detail. . . . Gwendolyn Harper’s lively translations in this volume con­tain all sorts of inventive recreations of Lemebel’s exacting slices into the intestines of Chilean speech. . . . I hope this volume will begin a long overdue international con­versation about, and celebration of, Lemebel’s exhilarating work . . . a body of work that deserves a far more prominent place in the international canon of writing that has expanded humanity’s understanding of itself.” —Idra Novey, from the Foreword

“Lemebel’s critique of the western colonisation of sexual identity was almost as vicious as it was of the Pinochet dictatorship.” The Observer (London)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780143137085
ISBN-10: 0143137085
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: May 28th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English