A suspenseful novel with unexpected twists and turns about the agony of Venezuela and the collapse of Chavismo. Translated from Spanish by Noel Hernández González and Daniel Hahn.

Set in the Venezuela of Nicolas Maduro amid a mass exodus of the intellectual class who have been leaving their pets behind. Ulises Kan, the protagonist and a movie buff, receives a text message from his wife, Paulina, saying she is leaving the country (and him). Ulises is not heartbroken, but liberated by Paulina’s departure. As two other events end up disrupting his life even further, Ulises discovers that he has been entrusted with a mission – to transform Los Argonautas, the great family home, into a shelter for abandoned dogs. If he manages to do it in time, he will inherit the luxurious apartment that he had shared with Paulina.

Simpatía was longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2024, announced on March 11 2024.

The International Booker Prize 2024
Published by
Seven Stories Press UK
Publication date

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Portrait of author Rodrigo Blanco Calderón

Rodrigo Blanco Calderón

About the Author

Rodrigo Blanco Calderón is a writer, editor and university lecturer. 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. 

More about Rodrigo Blanco Calderón
Portrait of translator Noel Hernández González

Noel Hernández González

About the Author

Noel Hernández González is originally from Spain and has an MA in Literary Translation from the University of East Anglia.
More about Noel Hernández González
Daniel Hahn

Daniel Hahn

About the Translator

Daniel Hahn is an award-winning writer, editor and translator.
More about Daniel Hahn

What the International Booker Prize 2024 judges said

‘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. His wife has just announced by text message that she is leaving him and his father-in-law has willed him Los Argonautas, a house of accumulating secrets and mythologies. Much like that of Jason of the Argonauts, Ulises’ inheritance is contingent on the completion of a task: to transform the house into a veterinary clinic and kennel for the stray dogs left behind by the elites who have fled the city. 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.’

Group photo of the International Booker Prize 2024 Judges; Romesh Gunesekera, Natalie Diaz, William Kentridge, Eleanor Wachtel and Aaron Robertson.

What the critics said


‘An unpredictable fable that counters a nation’s hopelessness with the universal need for meaning and connection.’

Publishers Weekly

‘In the kinetic latest from Blanco Calderón (Sacrifices), a Venezuelan man navigates political and domestic upheaval after the fall of Hugo Chavez. The story kicks off in Caracas when Ulises Kan’s wife leaves him in order to flee the country and escape the repressive Maduro regime. Three months later, after the death of his father-in-law, Martín Ayala, Ulises finds out he’s been tasked by Martín’s will with turning the sprawling Ayala estate into a nonprofit dog rescue. According to the terms of the will, Ulises has four months to make the operation successful. If he does so, the house will be bequeathed to the organization in perpetuity and Ulises will receive an apartment on the estate. Otherwise, the property will go to Martín’s children and the rescue will be forced to shutter. Meanwhile, a woman Ulises had once been enamored with mysteriously reappears, and they begin a passionate love affair. More ominously, Ulises discovers the house is routinely monitored by federal agents and other shadowy figures. 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.’ 

Carmen R. Santos, ABC Cultura

‘Blanco Calderón speaks to us of ‘dogs and men,’ of their struggle for survival, of their pain … and of their hope.’  


‘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.’