Rodrigo Blanco Calderón

Rodrigo Blanco Calderón

Caracas, Venezuela, 1981

Rodrigo Blanco Calderón is a writer, editor and university lecturer. He completed a doctorate in linguistics and literature at Paris XIII University. He has received various awards for his stories both inside and outside Venezuela. In 2007 he was invited to join the Bogotá39 group, which brings together the best Latin American narrators under thirty-nine years old. In 2013 he was a guest writer on the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. In 2014, his story “Emuntorios” was included in Thirteen Crime Stories from Latin America, volume number 46 of the prestigious magazine McSweeney's. With his first novel, The Night, he won the 2016 Paris Rive Gauche Prize, the Critics Award in Venezuela and the 2019 Mario Vargas Llosa Biennial Prize. He currently lives in Malaga, Spain.

  • “After reading the stories by Rodrigo Blanco, one harbours the nostalgia for those faraway days in which one could read just by the pleasure of reading.” El Nacional
  • “'The Night' is more than a promising debut. It is a novel that already fulfils a lot and at least deserves cult status.” Maarten Steenmeijer, De Volskrant


Rodrigo Blanco has established  himself as one of the leading voices in Latin American literature, and Simpatía seems poised to become the great novel of the death throes of Venezuela and the collapse of Chavism.

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Longlisted for The International Booker Prize 2024

Rodrigo Blanco has established  himself as one of the leading voices in Latin American literature, and Simpatía seems poised to become the great novel of the death throes of Venezuela and the collapse of Chavism.

Proof of the chaos and misery that plague Caracas are the hordes of dogs that roam the streets, abandoned by the millions of Venezuelans who flee the country. That’s why Ulises, who’s flat broke and teaches in a modest cinema workshop, agrees to create a foundation to rescue dogs in need. Ulises is unwittingly dragged into an odyssey of family entanglements, dangers that have him doubting the people around him—where suddenly no one is what they seem—and mysteries surrounding the most famous, patriotic dogs in Venezuela.

With a masterful hand and refined sense of humour, Rodrigo Blanco has produced a mystery, not without parodic elements, packed with references to cinema, literature, and dogs. Simpatía is like a tragicomic fresco, sometimes grotesque, of Venezuela today. There’s an ironic, irreverent take on some of the country’s most mythical figures, from Simón Bolívar to Hugo Chávez, and a sharp, hilarious reflection on inheritance and identity. 

UK and US:

“In the kinetic latest from Blanco Calderón, a Venezuelan man navigates political and domestic upheaval after the fall of Hugo Chavez. . . The twisty story is chock full of betrayals and intrigue as Ulises faces one hurdle after another in his quest to make good on the inheritance. This page turner has plenty of depth.” – Publishers Weekly

“My favourite book in translation this month is Rodrigo Blanco Calderón’s Simpatía. Caracas- born Calderón has written an imaginative, riveting tale about the collapse of the progressive political ideology of Chavismo in Venezuela, mixed with the deft story of a lovelorn man who turns his family home into a shelter for abandoned dogs.” – Martin Chilton, Independent 

“An unpredictable fable that counters a nation’s hopelessness with the universal need for meaning and connection.” – Kirkus Reviews

‘In this realistic allegory set in Caracas during Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship, we meet Ulises, a former orphan who is desperate for a sense of purpose and belonging. [...] Within the madness and austerity of political corruption and historical revisioning, Ulises devotes himself to one of the saner choices left to him: complete the task by saving the dogs, with the help of his Medea-like lover, Nadine, and the leftover animal rescue and house staff. In doing so he simultaneously creates a chosen family and a practice of care that is a stronger balm for the heart than sympathy.’ The Booker Prize Jury


“While The Night was dark, Simpatía is tremendously luminous. Even when positing paradoxes or, perhaps, precisely to do so. Ulises: dwell on that name. I read this novel in one sitting. The prose is marvellous and full of beautiful images.” – Karina Sainz Borgo

“In his latest novel, Rodrigo Blanco Calderón continues his investigation, initiated in The Night, into what literature can say about the floundering of Venezuela, this time, through the plight of stray dogs and the love they spur in various orphan characters.” – Jorge Carrión

“Blanco Calderón speaks to us of ‘dogs and men,’ of their struggle for survival, of their pain...and of their hope.” – ABC Cultura

“Simpatía is a new example of the lucidity that can illuminate a lost paradise. Rodrigo Blanco Calderón authors a work equally exquisite in content and form.” – David Jiménez Flores

“The latest novel by the Venezuelan writer Rodrigo Blanco Calderón reestablishes him as one of the most promising contemporary Ibero-American prose writers, and consolidates him as an indisputable figure within the prolific panorama of twenty-first century fiction.” – Letralia


« Glissant du récit historico-politique à suspense au roman policier, Rodrigo Blanco Calderón rappelle avec brio combien ceux qui nous sont le plus proches s’avèrent presque toujours les plus insaisissables. » Le Monde des livres

« Avec 'De l’amour des chiens', Rodrigo Blanco Calderón réussit le pari du roman à plusieurs entrées. Etude sociologique, enquête policière, drame familial, histoire d’amour contrariée…  autant d’éléments indépendants qui concoururent à une fresque qui les dépassent. Chiens errants et destins brisés deviennent ici les miroirs d’une société en quête d’identité. Ce n’est pas sans raison que le roman figure sur la liste du Booker Prize (sous son titre en anglais, Simpatía), tant Rodrigo Blanco Calderón excelle dans cette étude de mœurs incisive et aiguisée. » Mathieu Soulas, Widoobiz

« 'De l’amour des chiens' est un roman multiple. Le Venezuela y apparaît comme un pays où l’on vit tant bien que mal, dans la violence et les restrictions, un pays que la plupart des gens a fui, les familles partent en lambeaux. » Christian Roinat

« 'De l’amour des chiens' fait briller d’un éclat neuf la modernité littéraire latino-américaine. » Cédric Jugé, Noveaux Espaces Latinos 

III Mario Vargas Llosa Biennial Novel Award 2019

Prix Rive Gauche à Paris du Livre Étranger 2016

A frenzied literary fresco of nowadays Venezuela's dark roots by a not-to-be-missed voice in the new Latin American literature.

In the city of Caracas there are constant power blackouts. This dual darkness of the night is full of dangers, violence, dreams, ambitions. And literature. Real and fictitious characters and multiple narrators, blur in this night creating a frenzied fresco, where space and time are permeable and changing. Four fictional characters star in the novel: a psichiatrist; his friend, a patient severely affected from obsessions; a half-mad writer who obtained a literary prize with an incomprehensible short story; and a dynamic though tortured woman. The story of these characters, with their relationships, crises, love affairs, rifts (estrangements), projects and failures, construct a bildungsroman which metamorphoses into a roman noir and ends with a murder. At the same time the novel includes a “biography-homage” to a real Venezuelan author, Darío Lancini (1932-2010), a writer specialized in intertextual games. 

"The Night is a more than promising debut by a master storyteller", Maarten Steenmeijer, The Volskrant

“Fiction, reality and popular culture knit a web of parallels and echoes, reminiscent of the work of Agustín Fernández Mallo, with nods to Roberto Bolaño’s marginal writers – briskly deromanticized. […] unabashed literature about literature and, most originally, its building blocks in language.” The Times Literary Supplement

"A labyrinthine study of language, writers, and obsession against a backdrop of rampant femicides and the energy and political crises in contemporary Caracas. [...] A wild and complex celebration of language and storytelling. [...] Exhilarating and entertaining." Publishers Weekly

“After reading the stories by Rodrigo Blanco one harbours the nostalgia for those faraway days in which one could read just by the pleasure of reading”. El Nacional

"One of the big names in today's Venezuelan literature; a literature that shows the best of itself outside its frontiers". La Vanguardia

"An exciting, unapologetically literary book." Thomas Bunstead

"A novel dark and somber like the night." Thibault Boixiere

“A polyphonic novel, composed like a set of Russian dolls (...) a literary artefact masterfully constructed by a storyteller who knows how to appreciate the complexity of his native metropolis and the lives of its inhabitants.” Jury of the Mario Vargas Llosa Biennial Novel Award

“This novel is messy, exhilarating and hugely enjoyable.” Rónán Hession, Irish Times



Short stories and novellas

Rodrigo Blanco’s literature is the response to a cataclysm.

After his foray into the novel with the extraordinary book The Night, Rodrigo Blanco is back with seven fascinating short stories. This tableau of wonders is inhabited by strange, appealing characters: a taxidermist painter, a blind man lost in the world of Petrarch, a female motorcyclist who rides naked through the night, a foreigner who learns a language making confessions in Paris churches, and a dying pilot who finds peace in a reading of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Some coexist in the midst of a floundering Venezuela, others with the threat of terrorism in France, or in a Mexico symbolizing the first shots of the revolution. All are characters emerging from the black hole of literature.

Impeccable and masterful in his storytelling, Rodrigo Blanco constructs a nocturnal cast of characters who become the victims and executioners of a sacrifice, of the atonement that is life anytime, anywhere, in which we are all “calves”.

Once again, Blanco Calderón writes in that border area between the real and unreal, slowly modulating the appearance of reality until he surprises the reader with an almost fantastic world, where a mere gesture marks the difference between the normal and the monstrous.

Includes: Los invencibles, El biombo, Calle Sarandí, El último viaje del Tiburón Arcaya, En la hora sin sombra and Los golpes de la vida.

El autor debuta con estos cinco cuentos. Transmiten la lucha del individuo para sobrevivir a los desmanes de la ciudad, de cualquier ciudad, bajo la asfixia causada por otros hombres tan extraviados y violentos como él.


  • 2024 - Longlisted for The International Booker Prize for Simpatía
  • 2023 - O. Henry Prize for his short story 'The Mad people of Paris' (Sacrifice)
  • 2019 - Premio Bienal de Novela Mario Vargas Llosa for The Night
  • 2018 - Premio de la Crítica (Venezuela) for The Night
  • 2017 - Finalist of the V Premio Narrativa Breve Ribera del Duero for Los terneros
  • 2016 - Prix Rive Gauche à Paris for The Night
  • 2007 - Winner of the LXI Concurso Anual de Cuentos held by the newspaper El Nacional for the short story Los golpes de la vida 
  • 2005 - Winner of the contest for unpublished writers held by the publishing house Monte Ávila, for Una fila de hombres