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Multiple Choice

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  3,611 ratings  ·  670 reviews
The works of Alejandro Zambra, “the most talked-about writer to come out of Chile since Bolaño” (New York Times Book Review), are distinguished by their striking originality, their brevity, their strangeness, and their flouting of narrative convention. Now, at the height of his powers, Zambra returns with a book that is the natural extension of these qualities: Multiple Ch ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published July 19th 2016 by Penguin Books (first published December 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  3,611 ratings  ·  670 reviews

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Dave Schaafsma
Update, May 2020: many universities are now no longer requiring the almost useless SAT or ACT for admission to universities, a hopeful trend to hopefully begin to dismantle the billion dollar standardized test industry.

So, did Alejandro Zambra actually create a novel in the form of a standardized test?!

A) Yes, he sure did, modeled on the Chilean Academic Aptitude Test which he himself took in 1993, with 90 multiple choice questions, some of them based on stories included in the test
B) No, I’m ki
Elyse  Walters
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Did you have 'Test Anxiety' when you were in school?
A Yes
B No
C Sometimes
D Always

This teeny-weeny book could take an hour to read --- or weeks. Your choice. You might feel a little intimidated by this tiny pale blue fiction-nonfiction-poetry-all of the of the above-none of the above, book, by Chilean author Alejandro Zamora.
You might settle in -and have an awesome and amazing time. Your choice.

If you hated taking multiple-choice tests in school, you have a chance to experience taking
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A magnificent collision between Dadaism & literature. A radical experiment that depicts a solemn reality behind much artifice & minutiae. It is risky. Overall: one great find for me at the Denver Public Library! (as per usual)
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Very clever indeed! It was a super fast read, although highly enjoyable. I especially love the silent stance the author is taking with the absurdity of (some? all?) standardized testing.
Lee Klein
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
My first Zambra, other than an interview I translated last year. Quick, clever, painless, joyful, melancholic, unpredictable, clear, cool, refreshing, effervescent -- and therefore like refrigerated lemon-lime seltzer, I guess. At worst felt like a little collection of stories padded by a great formal gimmick, one that I feel like I've seen before (maybe in Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts) but I can't remember; ...more
This work is all kinds of novel. Chilean novelist Zambra really puts us through our paces by making us actually participate in the process of his fiction. He gives us choices on how to finish his sentences. He starts simply enough, asking us to decide which word has no relation to the words given. The structure of the book copies the Verbal section of the Chilean Academic Aptitude Test, required of all applicants to university in Chile. Our minds race with the possibilities he’s given us, and we ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Clever, poetic and strangely touching: Alejandro Zambras' novel in the form of a multiple-choice test exposes the absurdity of stupid admission tests and confronts the participating reader with moral conflicts.
“You’ll do well on the test, very well, don’t worry—you weren’t educated, you were trained.”
Alejandro Zambra takes a contemporary form of evaluation as a model: the "Prueba de Selección Universitaria" (PSU), introduced in Chile in 1967. The structure of the book follows, so the prelimi
Nov 20, 2016 rated it liked it
If this were graded, I doubt I would receive better than a C-. Presented in test format, I found this to be too much work and often confusing. This could be a brilliant stylistic choice but I tired of it quickly. 2.5 stars
Cindy Burnett
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Multiple Choice is a one-of-a-kind read in the best possible way. Chilean author Alejandro Zambra innovatively styled his new book after the Chilean Academic Aptitude Test which students took every December from 1967 to 2003 if they planned to apply to college in Chile. Specifically, he chose the Verbal Aptitude section as he took it in 1993 which consisted of ninety multiple choice questions contained in five sections. While each section of the book was fantastic in its own right, my favorites ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I agree with those who label this little book as pretentious, but I guess I don’t mind pretentious as long the author:

a) Has something interesting to say
b) Says what he has to say in an interesting way
c) Is interested in transmitting something beyond what he is saying
d) Is not interested in how what is saying will come across
e) All of the above

I read this in one breath and will need a second read to exhale it now.
If the Russians were born drunk, and the French were born perverted, then the Sout
Paul Fulcher
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Unusually for me I won't write a detailed review of this one as everything has been said so much better by reviews from goodreads friends (and yes I know that doesn't normally stop me).

The question is whether my views on the book are best reflected by:

a) Doug's review which points out that this, in an English original, would be a classic Goldsmiths Prize book. Albeit I'm not sure Doug means this as a compliment given his view of the 2016 winner.

b) Tony Messenger's brilliant review which, as in D
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
During my life, through school, University and then Professional qualifications I have taken many exams and would consider myself something of a connoisseur of the form – across a spectrum which culminates in the mental, physical and intellectual ordeal of the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos to in my view the rather banal existence of the multiple choice test, a form which I always considered as rather intellectually lazy and more designed for the convenience of the examiners and to introduce stan ...more
Book Riot Community
I absolutely adore Zambra’s work. He’s wildly inventive, never more so than with this novel, which invites readers to respond to thought-provoking, multiple choice questions, and to read short paragraphs, which illuminate his feelings on love, life, and family. Zambra is a gem, and I highly recommend checking out his backlist titles, too. His books are tiny treasures.

Backlist bump: My Documents by Alejandro Zambra (Author), Megan McDowell (Translator)

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to al
This a strange, little book, that is the least you can say about this booklet. The Chilean writer Zambra seems to give a duplicate (a ‘facsimile’) of the test that you had to take in his country at the end of high school, and which determined which studies you could proceed. His book starts fairly simple (or at least you think so) with a few classic multiple-choice questions (such as: “which term does not belong in this list?” Or “put the sentences in the correct order”), but gradually he builds ...more
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translation, fiction
i'm not overly fond of gimmicks in my fiction (or anywhere else for that matter). having read only a single zambra book previously (bonsai, which left me, admittedly, lukewarm), i thought it altogether likely that this would solidify for me an enduring disinclination to seek out anything further from the chilean author/poet. but it didn't. and, despite myself, i enjoyed multiple choice (facsímil) far more than i thought i would (i anticipated a lazy man's oulipo).

based structurally on the chilea
Amanda Coak
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Multiple Choice is one of the most unique reads I've sat through in awhile. Initially, I was drawn to the text due to its unique format, and because I was intrigued that a book would be written like an aptitude test. I'll be honest, at first, I was perplexed by Zambra. I was worried that the book would be mainly word connections and relations (the first third of the book) but then the novel takes a different turn, and the reader is given short passages that resemble short stories. The reading co ...more
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This got increasingly clever and poignant and "laugh out loud" funny and was a memorable way to spend a couple hours taking turns reading each "problem" out loud with a girlfriend I'd missed spending time with on a train last summer between Cologne and Berlin last summer. I'd probably not like it as much if I was reading it alone or silently as it wasn't linear and had such a choppy model. It was a mellow and interesting time with the countryside and villages for scenery and my husband and teena ...more
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love epistolary novels so when I saw a recommendation for this one I immediately added it to my TBR list. A book written in the form of multiple choice tests could potentially be either really great or provoke nervous flashbacks of high school. It turned out to be the most enjoyable standardized testing experience of my life, although the bar was set pretty low on that one! The first part is full of clever wordplay and becomes surprisingly deep. I don't know how it's possible to convey such em ...more
Nov 09, 2016 rated it liked it
This novel is _______?
a) Experimental fiction
b) Non fiction
c) Autobiography
d) Fiction
e) All of the above

The latest work from Alejandro Zambra is structured on ________?
a) The Chilean Academic Aptitude Test
b) Which was in place between 1967 and 2003
c) The need to pass this test to enter University
d) The Verbal Aptitude test that Zambra took in 1993
e) All of the above

The work is constructed into five sections. Which is your favourite?
a) Excluded Term
b) Sentence Order
c) Sentence Completion
d) Senten
Jim Elkins
Jan 09, 2017 added it
Shelves: chilean
What Happens When Constrained Writing Doesn't Follow Its Constraints?

Constrained writing, including Oulipo, depends in part on its constraints, or at least it advertises itself as depending on them. In the clearest cases, the constraint is simple and known to the reader, as in the Oulipean lipogram. In other instances, the constraints are multiple or private, and they lead the reader to puzzle over the text, deducing its departures from some normative path.

Since so much experimental writing is c
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
A luminous engaging inventive novel of micro-tales!

I was initially drawn to this book by the appealing cover as I like taking multiple choice tests, especially when I will not be graded. I was having much fun with Section 1 – Excluded Term, justifying to myself why I chose what I thought what the correct choice should be – there were a couple of times I changed my mind which changed the overall connection of the words in the group. But I thought to myself how cool this is this as I felt I was no
Wiebke (1book1review)
This is a quick read that is basically an Academic Aptitude Test. Well, not really. It is written in the style of one, but it quickly becomes apparent that it is questioning the practice of such tests and allows you to draw your own conclusions and reflect on the questions and ridiculousness of the answer choices.

It was a fun and thought provoking read, however, I missed a result at the end. Some kind of score and evaluation of my answers. But the frustration of not getting one is probably also
Viji (Bookish endeavors)
Me at the beginning of the book: Oh! This is brilliant.!
Me after some time: Am I doing this the right way!

Me after some more time: Well, let me see if Google has something to help me with.

Me after some and some more time: I am almost there. It shouldn’t be that difficult!

Me at the end of the book: ’You know.. I always loved descriptive type questions in my tests.. I am not really good with multiple choice.. they give you all sorts of choices and expect you to waste time over thinking about all
Jun 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I may have missed the point of this book completely, and yet I still enjoyed it. It’s structured like a multiple choice test and based on the Chilean National Aptitude test. I give this all the points for originality with the structure. Towards the end of the book, there are longer essays, which felt like short stories, and were easier for me to grasp. Even though I wasn’t sure I was understanding everything, I felt like I was exercising my mind, which is a good thing. Reading this also made me ...more
I can understand why Zambra chose this experimental format - making a point about the historical SAT system in Chile - however I skipped that part rather quickly and simply read the different stories/texts/whatever. The book had some interesting things in it but I missed the connection throughout. Rather vignettes of Chilean politics/history than a full fleshed work.

O.W.L.s 2020: Herbology: Mimbulus mimbletonia - Title starts with M.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
What even is this experiment? Flash fiction? Poetry? Political commentary?
Very clever.
Loved it.
Favourite part: Reading Comprehension.
Anna (lion_reads)
This may be the most stylistically unusual book I ever read. Written as a standardized multiple choice test Alejandro Zambra explores the meaning of love, family, politics and storytelling by forcing the reader to choose the best answer or, as often the case, the answer they would prefer. I was surprised by how poignant Multiple Choice was. I liked how Zambra switched between satire, humour and expressions of longing to deliver punchline after punchline. One of the most memorable themes he cover ...more
Nov 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I am having a hard time reviewing this book. On the one hand, this is wildly creative. On the other hand, I feel like if I was someone else, I would have extracted a lot more.

This is apparently structured like a Chilean college entrance exam, which appears similar to the American SAT. There are 5 parts: Excluded Term, Sentence Order, Sentence Completion, Sentence Elimination, and Reading Comprehension. The first one was the weakest for me, although it was clever in some parts (for example:
Katie/Doing Dewey
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Summary: I'm not entirely certain what to make of this clever and darkly humorous book, but I definitely enjoyed how unique it was.

If you're like me and actually found standardized tests kind of fun or if you just share my enjoyment of unique book formats, you should definitely check out Multiple Choice. I've never read anything like this book, with its test-like format, before. The reading experience reminded me a tiny bit of Brown Girl Dreaming, because in both cases the authors' packed a lot
I had such mixed feelings about this one! Finally settled on a 3.25 as my rating.

The author states that the structure of this is based on the Chilean Academic Aptitude Test, which was taken between 1967 - 2003 in order to apply to Chilean universities. Apparently this test still exists under a different name, and the book is based on the test the year the author took the exam (1993).

First things first - I think this is a kind of gimmicky format. I applaud the author for trying something differen
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Alejandro Zambra is a Chilean writer. He is the author of Bonsai, The Private Lives of Trees, Ways of Going Home, My Documents and Multiple Choice. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Granta, Harper's, Zoetrope, and McSweeney’s, among other places. ...more

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