Benjamín Labatut

Un Verdor Terrible - Blind Light - Strayings of Science

(German title: Das blinde Licht)
ca. 200 pages
Benjamín Labatut
Foto: Benjamín Labatut
© Juana Gomez

Benjamín Labatut was born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in 1980. He grew up in The Hague and Buenos Aires and currently lives and works in Santiago de Chile. His literary works have been awarded various prizes, including the 2013 Premio Municipal de Literatura de Santiago de Chile. Un Verdor Terrible is his third book.

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UK & ANZ (Pushkin Press), Spanish world rights (Anagrama), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Todavia), Portuguese rights (Elsinore), France (Seuil), Italy (Adelphi), Netherlands (Atlas|Contact)


In his literary exploration Un Verdor Terrible, Benjamín Labatut writes about the fine line between genius and insanity and about the ambivalence of scientific discoveries in four chapters that are as sensuous as they are bizarre. The text portrays the life of scientists Fritz Haber, Werner Heisenberg, Alexander Grothendieck and Erwin Schrödinger as that of daredevil dreamers and passionate trailblazers. We read of their Eureka!-moments, their triumphant epiphanies, but also of their ethical shortcomings, their mental lows and their narcissism.

With virtuosity, in rich and strikingly vivid detail, Labatut unlocks historic connections and writes, seemingly en passant, a history of 20th-century European science that is not only shaped by the great wars, but that, in turn, also has a major influence on the course of those wars. A literary gem about human eccentricity and the glorious yet terrifying power of science.


»Labatut advances into the heart of a reality that few before him have seen this way – and that no one before him has described like this. A book of awe-inspiring beauty.« Wolfram Eilenberger

»The genius of Benjamín Labatut’s writing lies in his capacity to penetrate into domains of enormous complexity without ever relinquishing rigour, while making his scientist characters flesh and blood, pure literary figures that probably seem more real the more they are invented. […] The limits of human knowledge: this is the territory in which Labatut, with verve and extraordinary intellectual vigor, circulates in this admirable book.« José Mário Silva, Expresso (Portugal)