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De Poolse bokser

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3.74  ·  Rating details ·  715 ratings  ·  123 reviews
Een ongrijpbare meesterverteller aan het woord

Met verhalen die steeds meer samenhang blijken te vertonen, roept Eduardo Halfon een wereld op die zich laat lezen als een hecht opgebouwde roman. Ieder nieuw verhaal is op een verrassende manier verbonden met de andere verhalen en zet alles in een ander licht. Een joodse grootvader vertelt aan zijn kleinzoon hoe hij Auschwitz
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 2019 by Wereldbibliotheek (first published January 2008)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  715 ratings  ·  123 reviews


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Nancy Oakes
I loved this book. Without saying much about the full storylines here (you really have to experience this book yourself), I read this book twice -- the first time through I didn't like the disjointed feel of the book, but then when I got to the ending, something the author said made me think that perhaps I should go back and read it again. The light bulb over my head flashed on after the second read and I realized that what is important in this book is not that there are little stories wrapped ...more
Holly
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
D: You're reading about a Polish boxer?
Me: Well, not really . .
D: Then what's it about?
Me: It's sort of about a Guatemalan literature professor, and Sarajevo, and Gypsies, and Auschwitz, and Mark Twain conferences, and what literature is, and a woman who draws pictures of her orgasms, and . . .
D: Do you like it?
Me: I have no idea.
Leslie Reese
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The size of this Bellevue Literary Press, first english edition, published in 2012, is 5 inches x 71/2 inches, and just about 1/2 inch thick. It’s so unobtrusive that it fit easily inside my purse. Translated by five collaborators [from Guatemalan Spanish?], the page length comes in under 200 pages.

“Distant,” the first story, kicks off in the first person: a college literature professor (named Eduardo Halfon) opens the school year before a class of students who make him wonder “if this shit was
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Jeanette
I must have been cross-eyed when I read the title. I thought this was going to be about a guy who makes shiny coffins. The Box Polisher.
Dov Zeller
Here is another one of those novels in which the narrator is some fictionalized reflection of the novelist himself. And there are moments in which, just as in certain other similarly crafted books by other male authors, I was frustrated by the self-absorbed unreflective masculinity of the narrator and, I imagine, the novelist himself. I cannot say that I like the Halfon in this book, or that I feel too much tenderness toward the writer himself, or his attitude toward the female people in this ...more
Richard
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read it. It's about you. Really. Best thing I've read in years and years.
jeremy
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, translation
despite having written just shy of a dozen works of fiction, eduardo halfon has already received a number of notable accolades (including a guggenheim fellowship and being named as one of the prestigious bogotá 39). the guatemalan-born's first "novel" to be translated into english, the polish boxer (el boxeador polaco), is a contemplative and cultivated effort in autobiographical fiction. neither novel nor short story collection really, halfon's book weaves together loosely connected threads of ...more
Erin Poll - Tanis
Dec 04, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was recommended on a list of must read books and the review just raved about it and the synopsis sounded interesting. Truth is, I really didn't like it. Like, at all. I was so bored and it never engaged me. I was purposefully going through it as fast as I could just so I could finish it so it would end!! Guess it just wasn't for me.
Jenn
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book in a long time to make me cry. I was reading it in public and couldn't help myself. But it is neither sentimental nor tragic without hope. It made me cry because the details are so perfect, so simple, and all too human. Once again, Bellevue Literary Press strikes gold. You can basically read anything they publish and be guaranteed a gem.
Helena Andrzejewska
This book is very difficult to describe. It's not as much about action, as it is about feeling. I am not going to write about the plot, and I'm not sure if it's a book I feel "everyone should read", but it was bittersweet and reading it felt sort of like being the spectator of another person's daydream.

Not what I expected, but I am pleasantly surprised. Beautiful, raw, but a balanced piece of writing that fills you with melancholy and tries to describe the indescribable feeling of being human.
Thomas Hübner
http://www.mytwostotinki.com/?p=1693

No, the tattooed six-digit number visible on the arm of the narrator's grandfather is not his phone number as he tells his grandson - it is his inmate number from Auschwitz.

Eduardo Halfon, the narrator/author of The Polish Boxer is a literature professor at a college in Guatemala that seems to be rather frustrated by his job. Year after year he is teaching students that don't take the slightest interest in literature - but the rare exceptions make up for this
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Crystal
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the Polish Boxer for its flagrant disregard for literary expectations of any kind. Halfon plays and yet is serious. He write about very sombre and serious topics - the Holocaust, discrimination against Gypsies, the many many Serbian wars - but more generally about displacement, physical, psychological, spiritual, metaphysical. And yet he also plays with these serious things - using a character who is so baffled and confused by language barriers and cultural clashes that all of ...more
Tuck
literary interconnected short stories, literary in that they are written by and about a guatemalan literature prof named eduardo halfon, as he chronicles his classes, mostly dull, his girlfriend, mostly hot, his meeting a serbian pianist, mostly intriguing, and his grandpa, saved in Auschwitz by a polish boxer's good advice. lots of good details of food and drink, art, landscapes (from central america to belgrade gypsy brothels) family, religion, and memories. this is his first translated to ...more
Susie
I gave this book 4.85 stars at InsatiableBooksluts.com. I was provided a reader copy by Bellevue Literary Press.

Review excerpt:

"Halfon’s characters (and it feels weird to call them characters because I assume they are real people) all enchant the reader–Lía, who draws her orgasms; Juan Kalel, a brilliant poet confined by life in a tiny village; his grandfather, who always told his grandchildren that the number tattooed on his arm was his phone number, so he wouldn’t forget it–but the one that
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Howard Cincotta
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The Polish Boxer is either a sloppy pastiche or the future of literature. Is it fiction, memoir, fictionalized autobiography? I suspect Halfon, who is hailed on the cover copy as one of Latin America's hot young writers, doesn't really care. But he is certainly someone to watch. (This is his first book in English.)

Apparently, Polish Boxer is intended as installment in some combination of memoir and family history, with chapters on teaching literature to uninterested students in Guatemala, having
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Cooper Renner
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Halfon warns readers at the outset--via a classroom discussion between his narrator and students--that this novel will be bilevel--a surface story and a hidden story. The surface seems straightforward and somewhat plotless, but is very smartly written and keeps the reader's interest. The hidden story?--well, that sort of depends on the reader, eh? I'm still thinking about it. What we have in front of us is a narrator who 'pretends' to be the author himself and his interest in a half-Gypsy ...more
 Sophia B
My second book of Halfon and I am really enjoying it! This was even better than the first I read. They are connected in theme. It is partly biographical but of course it is fiction. I laughed a lot while reading - the characters he writes about - they seem so real - and they might be. I hope more people will read his works. He is american and bilingual but writes in spanish. It is about so much, it is about reality and fiction and how they are linked. The prose is so elegant and the characters ...more
L.A. Starks
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a brief change from thrillers & mysteries I read this "narrative" of short stories. Halfon writes with a light, expert touch and his work has been superbly translated. Readers who like this book would also like Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, a collection of short stories by award-winning author Ben Fountain.
Michelle
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michelle by: Jenn
Shelves: favorites
I really loved this book more than I thought I would. Something was just so perfectly simple yet magical about it and I was sad when it was over. I can see myself rereading this book in an attempt at an escape from the mundane. I hope more of his books get translated into English!
Erika Dreifus
Please see my review for The Jewish Journal, based on a complimentary review copy provided by the publisher.
Colleen
3/4 through this book, I started wondering how many cigarettes Eduardo had smoked.
WCN Book Club
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review by Sam Ruddock - Summer Reads Producer

There is a passage in The Polish Boxer in which the narrator, a Guatemalan literature professor and writer named Eduardo Halfon, tells a musician he has just met about his take on revolutions. I am, he says, ‘fascinated by internal rather than external revolutions…how and why someone is pushed toward a revolution of the spirit, whether it be artistic or social or whatever, strikes me as a far more honest search than all of the spectacle that follows.
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Masanaka Takashima
I read this book in Japanese translation, borrowing it from a local library. (I'm sorry that I post this here, but I couldn't find any proper space.) The translator's note says the Japanese version is actually a recompilation of short pieces from the authors three different books ---- "The Polish Boxer", "La pirueta" and "Monasterio". The protagonist always having urges to move around makes the whole book so dynamic that I was kept turning pages. One travel shows he is a good literature teacher. ...more
Kim
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-the-world
I enjoyed the philosophical parts of this book, regarding the ephemeral and transformative nature of literature and music. It is funny at times and heartbreaking at others, and I can't help but roll my eyes at the literati who dissect Mark Twain's writing while missing the point altogether. I would have rated it four stars, but it's one of those stories where all the women the male main character encounters want to have sex with him. Why does this happen so very often? I realize that the 'is it ...more
Rj
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Halfon’s short book ruminates in how novels are written. He is a beautiful writer and storyteller who has the ability to mix together the travels and stories of the author while also questioning how narratives operate in our lives. There is a poetic quality to his writing that makes for a really easy read.

"We read that a story always tells two stories. We read that the visible narrative always hides a secret tale." 9

"Fiction is funny that way, isn't it? A story is nothing but a lie. An
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Geoff
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting search for the meaning of the numbers tattooed on his grandfather's forearm. His grandfather joked it was his phone number. Truth he received the number at Auschwitz. Our narrator takes us on a journey across countries, time, memory. The voice is wonderful, the confused intellectual engaged with music, books, life.
Jean
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-a-copy
I had to reread some of this book before I could review - to me it was not an easy read - translated from Spanish to English - there are several, interconnected short stories that seem to be the author's fiction memoir, a Guatemalan literature professor - some serious topics about exploring the meaning of life...
Greg
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing is often luscious and unexpected. It zig zags here and there. The writer sounds edgy, anxious, aware of how fragile and fleeting moments of knowing are. There was more than enough here to enjoy, thoroughly, but many will find the meandering paths the book take to be too unpredictable.
Branka Njegic
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haven't read anything from any Guatemalan writers before. This is my first and this collection of short stories is simply breath taking.
Katrinka
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5? Not sure how I feel about this one, and it's all due to the protagonist.
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Eduardo Halfon was born in 1971 in Guatemala City. He studied Industrial Engineering at North Carolina State University, and later was professor of Literature at Universidad Francisco Marroquín, in Guatemala.
In 2011 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to work on continuing the story of The Polish Boxer, which is the first of his novels to be published in English, by Bellevue Literary Press in the
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“A story is nothing but a lie. An illusion. And that illusion only works if we trust in it.” 6 likes
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