Nest in the Bones
“Obstinate Observer” is from Antonio Di Benedetto’s collection Nest in The Bones (Archipelago Press, 2017). Di Benedetto, who died in 1986, is highly regarded in Latin America, but he remains relatively unknown in the United States. He began writing and publishing stories as a teenager and continued as a young man, inspired by the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Luigi Pirandello. The best of his stories are anthologized in this collection.
Di Benedetto wrote five novels, the most famous being the existential masterpiece Zama (1956).
Benjamin Kunkel, writing in the New Yorker, said of the novel: “Zama,” a brief, indelible novel by the Argentinean writer Antonio Di Benedetto, is a work of waiting–of enforced lassitude, excruciated anticipation, and final frustration. The story of a man holding out for deliverance from the backwater that turns out to be his destiny (if “destiny_”_ isn’t too dignified a word for where character and circumstance conspire to deposit us), it was written by a man likewise toiling in provincial obscurity and had itself to wait decades after its publication, in 1956, before it was recognized in the Spanish-speaking world as a classic. Only now, some sixty years later, and thirty after the death of its author, has the book appeared in English, in a sensitive translation by Esther Allen (New York Review Books).
J.M. Coetzee called Di Benedetto “a great writer we should know.” Juan Jose Saer, the leading Argentinean novelist of recent decades, said Di Benedetto’s work was “one of the culminating instances of Spanish-language narrative in our century.”