The Winners

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

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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.


[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]


A story that happened as it was meant to happen. :csad

Agustina Fernández Olivieri

«Los Premios» es la primera novela publicada de Julio Cortázar, en ella narra la historia de un grupo de hombres y de mujeres quienes representan a la sociedad porteña de la época y ganan en la lotería un pasaje para un crucero sin destino conocido. Una vez a bordo los pasajeros van a tener que lidiar con un enigmático suceso que está dado por el hecho de no poder ingresar en la popa, que dará lugar a diferentes reacciones en los distintos personajes. Es una novela muy interesante y entretenida no sólo porque te deja expectante queriendo saber qué es lo que sucede en la popa sino también por los vínculos que se forman y la riqueza y profundidad de algunos personajes.


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.

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.)


Si lo que se evita son finales conformistas, entonces el autor a leer es Cortazar, es el adelanto de Rayuela y la nota del autor al finalizar el libro es... tierna

Reham Kareem

استطيع اختصار الـ 470 بيج بكلمه واحده (مُمِلـــَهَ)


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.


gran novela de Cortazar, sueño con llevarla al cine.


It took me a while to figure out where this book was taking me, similar to the plight of the passengers on this mysterious voyage. I even had trouble discerning the genre, which in the end doesn’t really matter just as long as you arrive somewhere different from where you began.At times a character study, a mystery, a series of existential musings, a political satire, a metaphysical allegory, an examination of lurid sexual desire. I was initially put off by the sequential introduction of all the participants and some of the affected dialogue, which could be a translation issue, but after a while it all started to work. And then this minor character, Persio, starts his first monologue and you feel like you’ve been thrust into the cosmos with all of the thoughts of man and God at your disposal. These Persio passages, there are 10 or so, are either the stream of consciousness musings of a genius or the thoughts of a madman (or perhaps an author showing off his chops).But ultimately this is a slow-burn mystery …how were the passengers selected, where is the ship bound, why are they restricted from visiting the bridge, who will have sex with whom? It’s all pretty satisfying in the end although you’re not sure what the truth is or even if the truth exists …I guess that’s the point.


Sin duda, un ejercicio de preparación, la exploración de nuevas técnicas narrativas. En esta novela, me parece, se perfilan los primeros contornos de la literatura cortazariana. Hay una continuidad entre el flujo discursivo de este texto y, por ejemplo, Rayuela. Indispensable su lectura si es que uno quiere entender de dónde viene Cortázar.


للأسف الترجمه افقدت الروايه جزء كبير من جمالها ... عالم مكتظ


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

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