Reflections of a Fugitive in Mempo Giardinelli's La última felicidad de Bruno Fólner

For the Argentine author Mempo Giardinelli, La última felicidad de Bruno Fólner (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Edhasa, 2015) marks a return to fiction since the publication of his last novel, Visitas después de hora in 2003. With this new novel, Giardinelli not only assuages the impatience of his devoted readers, but also revisits a genre he has cultivated with mastery throughout his literary career: el género negro. His earliest incursions into detective fiction coincided with his exile in Mexico from 1976 to 1984. In Luna caliente (México: Editorial Oasis, 1983), which garnered Mexico’s Premio Nacional de Novela, the discursive elements of the hard-boiled novel served as vehicles enabling the author to examine the violence that traumatized his country during the dictatorship, while Qué sólos se quedan los muertos (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1985) paved the way for his return to a democratic Argentina after nine years of exile. Never content to repeat successful formulas, even after receiving literary prizes and movie contracts, with each subsequent foray into the dark side of human nature, Giardinelli has incorporated the classic elements of the género negro into his short stories and novels in unique ways that allow him to reflect on the human capacity for love and violence, especially under extraordinary circumstances that drive some beyond the limits of transgression. The opening lines of Giardinelli’s latest novel reveal to the reader that the anonymous protagonist, an Argentine writer who reinvents himself with the name Bruno Fólner, has already crossed that line and is about to begin a new life at the age of 64, after assassinating his wife the day before and fleeing to a small seaside town in Brazil to take refuge. This paper will explore the ways in which familiar elements of the thriller, such as crime, violence, flight, and sex, combined in a swift narration brimming with suspense, are actually secondary to the primary concerns that occupy the thoughts and dreams of G.R. alias Bruno Fólner: the anxieties of aging, the justice of death with dignity, and the creative act of writing itself.


  • Spanish American Studies