Rafael Gumucio was born in Santiago in 1970. Because of his parents’ left-wing political orientation and activism, his family was forced into exile immediately following General Augusto Pinochet’s military coup of September 1973, and they spent the following 11 years living in Paris, France, where they were eventually granted citizenship as political refugees. When the family returned to Chile in 1984 –with the dictator still in power—Gumucio was forced to live ‘underground’ for one year upon discovery that he had been mistakenly placed on a military black list. The error was eventually corrected and Gumucio was finally granted his Chilean citizenship.
Gumucio went on to earn a degree in Latin American literature from the Universidad Blas Cañas in 1992, two years after the dictator stepped down, and began working as a journalist, making his mark as an important voice amid the country’s recently-recovered freedom of expression. In the mid-90s, he became a household name in Chile as the director, screenwriter and actor of the groundbreaking, controversial, and devilishly humorous TV shows Gato Por Liebre and Plan Zeta, both of which have become legendary in Chile for their biting satire of the country’s social and political mores and for heralding a new era of TV journalism in Chile. In 1998, as the Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzón attempted to extradite Pinochet for war crimes, Gumucio co-founded The Clinic, a political-humor newspaper that broke the mold of status quo print journalism in Chile and that continues to be the best-selling periodical in the country thanks to its sharp commentary and acid wit. In early 1998, Gumucio was arrested and placed in jail for poking fun at the president of the Supreme Court on national television; his TV shows also earned the dubious honor of having received the highest number of sanctions and complaints from the Chilean communications commission.
Since then, Gumucio has written for magazines in Chile such as Apsis, Rock and Pop, and Paula, among others, and his work as a political, literary and cultural critic has appeared in the newspapers El Mercurio, La Tercera, La Nación, and El Metropolitano. Currently Gumucio’s social and political commentary can be found in the weekly and bi-weekly columns he writes for the popular Chilean daily Las Últimas Noticias. He has also been a contributor to a variety of Spanish newspapers and magazines including El País, La Vanguardia, ABC, Qué Leer, and Letras Libres. In 2000, he was a co-founder of the cutting-edge pop-culture magazine Fibra, which was recently honored with an award from the Society of Publication Designers in New York.
In addition to his work as a journalist Gumucio has also published a number of fiction and non-fiction books. His first fiction effort was Invierno en la Torre (Winter in the Tower), a collection of interconnected stories published by Planeta Chile in 1995. His first novel, Memorias Prematuras, originally published by Editorial Sudamericana, was a fast bestseller in Chile and subsequently published by Debate in Spain, where it received stellar reviews from the country’s most respected literary critics. In 2002, his second novel, Comedia Nupcial (Wedded Bliss), an acidic, devious deconstruction of a self-destructing marriage, was published in Chile and Spain to another round of critical accolades and won him the prestigious Anna Seghers Prize in Germany. His newspaper and magazine columns have been collected in the volume Monstruos cardenales (Cardinal Monsters), which was published in Chile in 2002. His latest work, Platos Rotos, una historia personal de Chile (Broken Dishes: A personal history of Chile), hit the bestseller list in his home country and was warmly received by the critics upon publication in July of 2004. In 2006 Random House Mondadori in Spain published his essay collection entitled Páginas Coloniales, an anthology of travel writing from Spain and the Americas. He is presently the director of the Institute for Humor Studies at the Universidad Diego Portales, and is the host of a daily radio show in Santiago.
¿Por qué soy católico? NON FICTION, 2019
Nicanor Parra, rey y mendigo NON FICTION, 2018
La Edad Media NOVEL, 2017
El galán imperfecto NOVEL, 2017
Contra la inocencia ESSAY, 2016
Milagro en Haití ESSAY, 2015
Mi abuela, Marta Rivas González NOVEL, 2013
Contra la belleza ESSAY, 2010
La situación. Crónicas literarias ESSAY, 2010
La deuda NOVEL, 2009
Páginas coloniales ESSAY, 2005
Los platos rotos ESSAY, 2013
Monstruos cardinales ESSAY, 2002
Comedia nupcial NOVEL, 2002
Memorias prematuras NOVEL, 1999
Invierno en la torre STORIES, 1996