The Winners

ISBN: 0940322315
ISBN 13: 9780940322318
By: Julio Cortázar Elaine Kerrigan Alastair Reid

Check Price Now


Argentina Currently Reading Favorites Fiction Latin American Literary Fiction Novela Nyrb Spanish To Read

About this book

The Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, called by Carlos Fuentes the Simon Bolivar of the Latin American novel, was one of the scintillating geniuses of twentieth-century literature—a writer of sly wit and immense sophistication with a keen eye for character and the workings of social life. The Winners is the story of a luxury cruise, bound for an unknown destination, which runs terribly amok. Funny, frightening, lyrical, and humane, it is a deeply satisfying philosophical novel about crossed lives and wayward love, as well as a brilliant meditation on the myth of the New World.

Reader's Thoughts


"The Winners" in english.It's really interesting... I recommend it to everyone.


Cortazar never tells a story directly, but he dances around, weaving an intricate web of words, images, allusions - what later crystallizes into a coherent story.Jumping-around Jazz-like narrative.


Cortazar's first novel. A good application of the ship as a microcosm. The strength of this novel is its characters.


[NOTE: Italian translation. Rating: 3.5 stars] I've always felt that the first sentence of a book was the key to the rest of the book. We don't necessarily know how to decipher that sentence at first, but at the end, turning back, we can see... And with the help of the author, it can be even easier.Here we start with "La marchesa uscì alle cinque, -- pensò Carlos López. -- Dove diavolo l'ho letto?" (My translation: The marquise left at 5 -- thought Carlos López. -- Where the devil did I read that?)What the devil could that mean? At first we don't know, and neither do we know later. The answer to the character's question is of course unimportant. The author himself tells us in a note at the end of the book that he wrote the book to escape from the (excess of intimacy from the) other passengers on a cruise ship. And that a book can be seen as a form of escape (into another world).And so from the start we have a character thinking of something that he read somewhere; book, literature, reading... escape, just as the 'where did I read that' escapes him...And just as the writing of this book was a way for the author to escape into another world, it is also for us, and we are following the author on his adventure, of which even he admittedly is not sure... the outcome that is... and it has that feeling of improv, or perhaps of finding one's way, in this new world... what's going on? what's going to happen? what has happened?Throughout, there's talk of reading and literature. Paula reads a french novel by the pool and calls López 'Jamaica John', from a pirate novel. Raul says he feels like he's in an existential novel (he is!)...But it's not all form and literary tricks: it's an absurd adventure on a mysterious cruise ship; it's a comedy of manners on a mysterious cruise ship; it's political theater on a mysterious cruise ship; it's a mystery on a mysterious cruise ship; it's an escape on a mysterious cruise ship.............[Update on 8 May 2012: the first line is apparently a reference to Claude Mauriac's "The marquise went out at 5", of which I know nothing, except that it was mentioned here: (via]


Hopscotch is a favorite of mine. It's dreamlike, funny, and moving by turns, and it's all cut-up and Bohemian and shit. I guess that sets the bar pretty high.We get glimpses of Cortázar's later work in this early volume. Especially in the sections that begin with letters rather than numbers. My, those are gorgeous, meditative things. But it doesn't really satisfy as a novel. It tries to generate a sense of alienation and absurdity, but it's not written with enough force to be convincing in the way that Beckett and Ballard can be when they're writing about absurd situations. Oh, and there are way too many characters. I don't really care about any of them. I get glimpses of them, and they MIGHT be interesting, but unlike the glittering cast of Hopscotch, they are mere shadows.


It took me awhile to enjoy Cortazar's writing. But once I did, it was brilliant. The story understands it's a story. And his sentences and dialog sometimes allow gaps to be left as words can do. He'll describe things and then also say things the vague way we've come to understand them spoken. His writing is almost like a Godard film, where he would intentionally add messy edits that reminded you that it's a movie. I didn't like how many characters there were at first. And they aren't introduced in a way that makes them at first indistinguishable. But maybe that's intentional. As if we enter in on them on dialog that's not important more than being just 'banter'. Or if it's all mundane anyway. But by the end they all become important and full-fleshed, full of desires and regrets. They become human without having much to do.


it seems a mock tragedy of sorts. everyone on the ship loses all perspective and rushes to fill in all the details of their new lives. this apparently contagious schizophrenia makes the tragedy possible, as everyone dutifully does what their new roles require. only when things end up badly does one of the characters remark to herself that she's only known these people for two days.


Adding this book to the list of my favorites. Beautifully written engaging story, well-developed characters. It is truly a timeless piece of writing. No wonder Bolano was such a huge Cortazar fan.

Anton Daneyko

По-моему её мне подарил Дима Тачицкий. Мне не особенно, как и почти весь Кортасар.

Libros Imprescindibles

Muy propio de Cortazar. Magnifica composición de los personajes.

Todd Dills

Published in 1960, a few years before Cortazar's Hopscotch blew open the Latin American literary world, this book is a great read, if the NYRB edition was long on typos. Cortazar proved himself here a master of character -- the crew of "winners" of the prize of a sea cruise here are what keep you reading, more than anything, but it's not all that simple. I recommend. Now get at it. (Thanks, Toby.)


This one is going to be good


Възхитителен. Това е първата дума, която се появява в мен, щом си спомня за тази книга. Освен че ме плени и не ме остави да я пусна, книгата (за пръв път) ме накара, след като я прочетох, да потърся критика, за да разбера повече за автора (както и да забележа, че на испански името му е изписано с ударение - Cortázar, което означава, че на български трябва да се чете КортАсар), пък и да видя малко разсъждения по прочетеното. Това само засили удоволствието.Става въпрос за някаква лотария, която на случаен принцип избира екипаж за корабен круиз. В тази "случайно избрана" (на едно-две места тази случайност се подставя под въпрос...) представителна извадка има персонажи от всички основни области - интелектуалци, хора на изкуството, лекари, работници. В затворената среда на кораба, която се превръща в течение на разказването във все по-напрегната и параноична, се стига до прояви на черти, които или са силно характерни за всяка от групите, или са дълбоко скрити във всеки от героите. Паралелно с развитието на историята (да колкото има такава, понеже не става ясно дали всичко не е плод на отприщените въображения на група от пътуващите) вървят и изстъпленията-словоизлияния на едни по-специален пътник - астролог и екстрасенс ( типова фигура, която се появява и в някои от разказите на Кортàсар). Неговите глави представят романа през една по-специфична гледна точка, която прочита действията на останалите герои през по-метафизична призма и която свързва едно глобално, над-човешко вглеждане в ситуацията на кораба, с едно вътрешно проникване в мислите и душите на героите.Заглавието в множество небългарски преводи, а и оригиналното, всъщност е "Победителите". То се навръзва доста добре с основното случване в романа - накрая човек може да се запита "Кой е всъщност победителят от цялата акция?". А може и да не го направи и да се остави още малко в малкия свят на круизния кораб и загадъчните неща, които се случват там.Романът е невероятно изживяване и за мен остава един от шедьоврите на ХХ век.


The Brussels-born Argentine Julio Cortázar (I think his parents were diplomats or something) is one of my favorite authors, although before this I had only read his short stories, and only in Spanish. I wanted to take a stab at one of his novels after reading two Roberto Bolano novels, who counted him as an influence, and whose style and voice is evident in the work of Bolano. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like not many English language readers know his work, although he wrote the short story "Blow Up" which Michelangelo Antonioni (who clearly was not an English language reader anyway, so this is a pointless example of the familiarity of Cortázar) adapted into film. Regardless, this one is the story of a cruise of national lottery winners who depart from Buenos Aires together as strangers. After a prologue of conversations between different traveling parties in a cafe, they board and form friendships, alliances, and have the expected romances. Many of the romantic scenes have an air of "Strangers on a Train" or the like, as the Antonioni connection is not incidental; Cortázar was a cinephile who adored and cited many American and European films and actors in his work, including this one. There are several passages which give an almost hallucinogenic account of the circumstances of the voyage, (from the perspective of the Persio character, a sort of herald savant for the story) which are shrouded in mystery, and sometimes allude to a much darker underlying reality to the events on board. The crew, seemingly Finnish, (even though one character denies that) or some other Scandinavian nationality that scarcely can understand or communicate in Spanish, issues cryptic statements regarding a typhus epidemic that requires that they forbid passengers entry to one section of the deck. There is the typical Cortázar element of the game here, where he is playing with the reader- do we really invest our suspicion in the possibility of something sinister below deck (which certain parties of male passengers gallantly attempt to explore in order to gain passage to the forbidden deck), or is this just some metaphorical expression of Latin American repression and hidden corruption (naturally the Argentine government is ushered in to warn passengers of relaying more than the "official" story once the dust settles), or is it nothing, just a middling cruise, with a bizarre crew to stave off the boredom, complete with a tiny particle board constructed pool, that disappoints its passengers? I found the way that the story unfolded to be captivating and fascinating, and Cortázar is a master at making the quotidian or even the boring into something evocative, suspenseful, and important (See "La autopista del sur," a story that on the surface centers around a Parisian traffic jam). So, if you've read Latin authors and want to go beyond Márquez or Borges, this may be a good place to start.


es la primera vez que me quedo hasta las 6 a.m. leyendoInesperado, como espero de cada pieza cortaziana

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *