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3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  282 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Upon recovering from a prolonged illness, an author is invited to a literary gathering in Jerusalem that turns out to be a most unusual affair. In the conference rooms of a luxury hotel, as bombs fall outside, at times too close for comfort, he listens to a series of extraordinary life stories: the saga of a chess-playing duo, the tale of an Italian porn star with a social ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Europa Editions (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 08, 2013 Richard rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This is a maddening book.

Once, a reporter asked Bob Dylan what one of his songs was about. Dylan replied that it was about 7 minutes. Necropolis is about 466 pages, that I'm sure of, what the author is trying to tell me, I'm not so sure.

Mr. Gamboa had me a good deal of the time. The set up was interesting - an invitation to a conference of biographers extended to a writer who was not a biographer, and who had not written anything in two years, but as all travel and accommodations were included,
Parts is parts.

Gamboa assembles several stories under the umbrella of a recuperating author’s experience at a conference without a discipline, set in a Jerusalem under fire. But to me, each of the stories was an assembly of events that didn’t build on each other or add up to anything, and the stories didn’t really add up to a larger whole either. There include: a Count of Monte Cristo tale involving corrupt paras in Columbia, an entrepreneurial, reputedly resiliant porn acress who argues her fil
Feb 16, 2016 Stacia rated it liked it
Shelves: europa-editions, 2016
I'm not even sure what I think of it. It's a relatively long & meandering book with stylistic touches reminiscent of both The Decameron & The Canterbury Tales. Some of the tales & digressions are more interesting than others. There are various tales but, ultimately, there is an overall story arc that is completed. And, there are many, many literary references & tips of the hat woven throughout the book. Reading some other reviews of this book made me realize that it is part of a ...more
Joe Cummings
May 13, 2013 Joe Cummings rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Necropolis, “ a translation by Howard Curtis of Necrópolis by the Columbian writer Santiago Gamboa , is a strange book indeed, especially when you consider that it is the first of Gamboa’s work to be published in English. What launched its publication was its winning the La Otra Orilla Literary Award in 2009. At that point Gamboa was [and still is] considered an important writer in the new McOndo school of Latin American writing. Although some of his works are available in translation in sevent ...more
Chad Post
Nov 08, 2012 Chad Post rated it really liked it
This book has an interesting structure that is destined to frustrate a great number of readers . . . The first 150-or-so pages of the book set up the main plot: the narrator (a famous Colombian author living in Italy, just like Gamboa) attends a conference on biography taking place in Jerusalem. Interspersed among his chapters about the conference are three long(ish) chapters representing one Jose Manturana's talk at the conference about the "Ministry of Mercy," an evangelical church that, accor ...more
Annie Primera
Sep 25, 2011 Annie Primera rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No, de verdad no. No hay nada en todo este maldito libro que se pueda salvar.
Oct 23, 2013 Alan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Macho men
Recommended to Alan by: Serendipity
{...I}t is easier to do without things that do not yet exist{...}
Necropolis, p.19
Paperlessness is perhaps unstoppably upon us, but despite recommendation engines and databases aplenty, one thing that still cannot easily be matched by the online world is the simple serendipity of trawling through shelves in a library or bookstore, pulling out things that catch one's eye and leafing through them... performing a digital search using one's actual digits. That is how I found Colombian author Santiag
Dec 29, 2016 Nikmaack rated it liked it
I picked this up entirely at random at the Ottawa Public Library.

While I really enjoyed this book, it doesn't seem to have much unity to it. I suppose that's part of the awe it created in me. One long story about a religious organization. One long story about a porn organization. And they both operate with spiritual priniciples. Many other long stories. Chess, for example. The plot sort of isn't a plot. Just events and stories near each other. And the moral of the ending is... An ending that fee
Gary Homewood
Oct 24, 2016 Gary Homewood rated it really liked it
Diverse group of characters at a literary conference of "Biography and Memory" in a hotel in a war zone, recounting fairly gripping life stories of an enigmatic leader of a religious cult, a leftist porn star and second-rate chess players. Some subtle interlinking of narrative, personal politics and storytelling.
Robbie Bruens
Necropolis is a novel of astonishing intelligence, imagination, and insight. With this book, Santiago Gamboa quickly ascends to my pantheon of literary gods alongside Bolaño and Borges. Gamboa definitely fits into the same literary tradition, with the influence of Bolaño in particular very present in the style and content of this book, though it by no means feels like a copycat, quite the contrary in fact - Necropolis is its own sexy animal. What I mean to say is if you like those aforementioned ...more
Ricardo Lourenço
“As vidas são como as cidades: se são limpas e ordenadas, não têm história. É na desgraça e na destruição que surgem as melhores.”

E é na desgraça e destruição que têm origem as diferentes histórias que constituem Necrópole. Histórias de desgraça e destruição, mas também histórias de resistência e perseverança, de vícios irrefreáveis e paixões reprimidas, que nos enriquecem como só as histórias da vida o podem fazer.
O romance tem início em Roma, onde um escritor Colombiano recupera de um período
Sep 29, 2013 Christian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really got me thinking: what does it mean to say a novel is "dreamlike"? Necropolis does feel like a series of strange dreams, but this is not the florid psychotropic dream-world of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, this is more like Borges or even Kafka, a maddening dream where the same things keep happening, and everything seems fraught with some significance that hangs just outside the reach of your understanding. A dream where when you wake up you're not sure how you would explain it to some ...more
Kate Bradley
Jun 27, 2013 Kate Bradley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Necropolis is sumptuously written and beautifully translated into English. Against the backdrop of a surreal conference in war-torn Jerusalem, Gamboa weaves together stories of individuals fighting to remain individuals in the face of adversity, battling with drug abuse, extreme poverty, war, governmental corruption, sexual violence and bad luck. As the characters discuss their own struggles, the protagonist, a writer at the conference, struggles with the book's central mystery,and the reader st ...more
Sep 15, 2016 mark rated it it was amazing
The narrator, a writer, gets invited to a conference on biographical narrative and there meets a variety of interesting characters, their presentations forming several of the chapters of this novel - and those narratives bleed (literally) into the narrative of the conference. Entertaining, deep (at times), and beautifully written to boot.
Full Stop

Review by Scott Beauchamp

Santiago Gamboa is a storyteller. This sounds like so general a statement that it doesn’t communicate anything, but not all novelists are interested in telling stories. There are novels about ideas, or language, or about the idea of language. There are novels that subvert the spirit of simple narration by reveling in our failures to understand one another. These novels all tend to fall under the banner of modern or postmodern, whic
Sep 02, 2013 Scott rated it really liked it
Centered in Jerusalem during a raging and bomb-dodging war, the annual biographer's conference is held and the guests are as varied in their literary contributions from the porn industry to exiled and award winning African poets. Narrow escapes and the conflict of the solitary man redeemed only by God propels the characters in their quests to know and aid each other. They tell their stories so that they may disclose their relationships, dishonesty and truths before a possible attack blasts them ...more
Jan 14, 2016 Jeanne rated it really liked it
I picked this up off a staff recommendation table at my local bookstore and was immediately hooked. This isn't a linear story - it is loosely about a conference on biography in Jerusalem - but the characters who both tell their own stories and others' are vivid and original. I never knew what was coming next, which is refreshing. I just wish more of Gamboa's novels were translated into English.
Just a warning - the narrative style is done in paragraph-style without quotes, conversations are punct
Aug 18, 2013 Cato rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
El libro es muy entretenido. La trama es muy buena y el libro atrapa, aunque al final me parece que quedan faltando algunas cosas por explicar, supongo que el autor las deja a la interpretacin del lector.

La crudeza con que narra hechos de violencia y sexo son bastante explcitas y resaltan cuando al poco rato le da el mismo tratamiento a detalles "al parecer" nimios como la compra de un sandwich de pollo con una coca cola diet.

Tambien me queda la duda de si el autor tiene alguna clase de fijacin
Nov 07, 2015 Yasmin rated it it was ok
I'm a Jerusalemite, and reading Gamboa's sloppy and inaccurate descriptions of my hometown was extremely painful. And even if I ignore the fact that he researched poorly, and I accept that it is all fiction (whichI did, for 464 pages), this is still not a good book. But it's captivating! And very meta, which is always satisfying! It's kind of like a sloppy thriller for quasi intellectuals, with sexy topics like drugs, and war, and the church, and many references to philosophers and writers who i ...more
Félix Miguel Rosario-Ortiz
En 'Necrópolis' se ejemplifica el arte como subterfugio, mejor aún, como escape o como intento de reorganizar y relacionarse con el caos. En esta novela todo es fuga; desde el mismo Maturana, un hombre que se inventa a sí mismo y que interacciona con un Mesías que, a su vez, es otro invento mitificado... Por eso cobra sentido el congreso entre biógrafos; sujetos reunidos en medio de una guerra, que casi no existen, sino que existen sus objetos de estudio.

Al final, el espacio en el que transcurre
I am enjoying this!
It's playful, eduride and plot-driven. It's also full of obscure references that feel as though they've been put in purely for my satisfaction. I feel that I recognise aspects of the authors (or translators) life through these chance details. (Can there be many other readers with a liking for 'The Sugarcubes', 'The Parliament Of Birds', the world of chess, a fixation on all things 'anal', and the poetry of Luis de Góngora?)..
Few books provide a secure distraction in which you
Sep 23, 2012 Tenli rated it it was amazing
An unnamed writer attends a conference on biography in war torn Tel Aviv. As the shelling escalates, the some of the conference attendees present their interconnected biographical or autobiographical writings. Are these true stories? Does it matter? Thought provoking, unpredictable, engrossing, sensual, heartbreaking, and funny -- I could list many adjectives and they could probably describe some part of this unusually rich read. Sadly, this is the only work of Gamboa's that is available in Engl ...more
Apr 16, 2016 Rose rated it liked it
Shelves: modern, books-of-2016
This was a hard book to rate - parts were 4 stars, parts were 1 or 2. Some of the individual stories that made up the book were just wonderful, and some painted pictures in my head I'll never be able to eradicate. I learned way more about the partying techniques of the young, rich and beautiful than I ever wanted to know, and some uses of tampons I could never have imagined. I settled on 3 stars, but I'm still a bit bemused.
Jan 01, 2013 M.v rated it liked it
so much sexual content. geez. But from how things went, it made me wonder whether that was a way to criticize our society along with the world of authors and those in publishing or whether this was all just straight up serious. The guy's death remained a mystery and no one solved what happened. And the ending was just "what the f". My mind was warped after finishing it. I guess I wasn't cut for this book.
Jun 05, 2013 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Long rambling book about memory, stories, words, lies, all mixed together with literary allusions and games. The narrator attends a conference on the subject of memory, and in the process hears personal stories. The Necropolis of the title is a war-torn Jerusalem.
The trouble is - as one story is told, then another negates it. Who - if anyone - tells the whole truth about their story? Is memory to be trusted or not?
A long book with the feel of something important not quite achieved.
Jun 19, 2016 Eliška rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Necropolis es un libro demasiado gordo para un trama tan sencillo. Las historias y el lenguaje de sus personas son para mi un poco flojos y poco creíbles. Creo que existen miles y miles de libros que se pueden leer en vez de este... Y lo más triste es que la traducción checa es aún peor!
Nekropolis je příliš tlustá kniha na tak chabou historku. Překlad je nic moc.
Oct 24, 2013 Hank rated it it was amazing
Shelves: colombian, fiction
A contemporary Decameron set amid a war-torn Jerusalem where a group (including a porn star and charlatan) comes together for a bizarre conference on Biography and Memory. Gamboa is a master of the grotesque and oddly illuminating aspects of the psyche. Equal parts depraved and hilarious, Necropolis intermingles stories of a burgeoning faith in the wreckage of the Holy Land.
Brenda Mejia
Mar 14, 2012 Brenda Mejia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
is a really good book, even though it doesnt have a traditional end... what I dislike from the book is that it have some time conflicts like for example, in the 90s no one would talk in terms of Euro, every single character no matter where they were had "diet coke and chicken sandwich" and the fact that the dialogues are written in paragraph makes you get confused on identify who is saying what.
Becky Buchanan
Dec 27, 2012 Becky Buchanan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the flow! Very interesting stories within the story...some quite touching. Could have done without the graphic porn detail. Sorry, just can't buy porn as a literary device. Liked the contradictions between war and peace, rich and poor and what makes life meaningful. Some Interesting insights.
Daniela Blandón
Dec 28, 2015 Daniela Blandón rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"La idea de la muerte por amor es algo que uno sólo comprende cuando está a punto de morir por amor"

"Lo que empieza de un modo romántico, entre dos seres humanos, tiene tendencia a degradarse y acabar en algo trágico, en desprecio e insultos y humillación, ¿será siempre así?"

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Born at Bogotá, he studied literature at the Javerian University of Bogotá. He travelled to Spain where he remained until 1990 and graduated in Hispanic Philology at the University of Alcalá de Henares. He then moved to Paris, where he studied Cuban Literature at the Sorbonne.

He made his debut as a novelist with Páginas de vuelta (1995), a work which established him as one of the most innovative v
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“chess is deeper and more mysterious than all of us put together; it’ll exist until somebody manages to master it completely, and that’ll never happen, Ferenck, it’s impossible for that to happen. Oslovski looked at him in surprise, and said, at the end of the day it’s a question of statistics: we’ll keep getting better, more intelligent, more gifted, we’ll keep going farther. Soon the great men of the 21st century will be born, or rather, they’ll turn into adults, because many may already have been born, and then we’ll know about them. The Freuds and Marxes and Einsteins and Nietzsches of the 21st century must be going to school right now, or still playing with toy cars, or watching the fall of a leaf in a park, who knows? And apart from them, there’ll also be a young Kafka suffering then turning to literature as therapy, and there’ll be an aristocratic Proust, who’ll portray the decadent bourgeoisie of the early 21st century from within, and of course the new Rimbaud must already be walking the streets, a young man with his fists clenched with hate, struggling against the social forms, and the Bukowski of the 21st century receiving a thrashing from his father and discovering that alcohol dulls the pain, and of course some boy of seven or eight must be on the verge of checkmating an adult on a chessboard,” 2 likes
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