Paola Kaufmann

Author of 'The Lake'

Paola Yannielli (Paola Kaufmann), writer and neuroscientist: born General Roca, Argentina 8 March 1969; married; died Buenos Aires 23 September 2006.

Paola Kaufmann was considered one of Latin America's most promising writers. Her last novel, El Lago, published last month in the UK as The Lake, won one of the Spanish-speaking world's leading prizes, the Planeta prize for Latin American fiction, in 2005.

Two years ago, her novel La Hermana (translated as The Sister, 2006), based on the life of the 19th-century American lyrical poet Emily Dickinson, as seen through the eyes of the poet's sister, won the Casa de las Américas prize, as well as plaudits from critics worldwide. Kaufmann based the fictionalised tale and dialogue on the diaries and letters of Emily Dickinson and those of her loving sister Lavinia, or "Vinnie", as well as letters from their correspondents, breathing life into the enigmatic poet's character through Lavinia's first-person narrative.

Paola Kaufmann was born in 1969 in the city of General Roca in the Argentinian province of Río Negro to a father of Italian and a mother of German extraction, spending most of her youth in the province of Córdoba. She was born Paola Yannielli but took on the surname of her mother, a poet and philosopher, after the latter died in an accident when Paola was five.

After moving to the Argentine capital to study biology, she received a doctorate in neurosciences from the University of Buenos Aires in 1999, continuing postgraduate studies until 2003 at Smith College, Massachusetts, where she received a doctorate in physics. There, during her spare time, she studied every document she could lay her hands on about Emily Dickinson's reclusive life in the Massachusetts town of Amherst.

In 2000, while Kaufmann was still studying in the United States, her collection of short stories El Campo de Golf del Diablo ("The Devil's Golf Course") won Argentina's Fondo Nacional de las Artes prize. Back in Buenos Aires from 2003, she published The Sister and continued to write while working as a neuroscientist. "I write and am more productive when I have an exacting scientific routine," she said in an interview shortly before she died (of a brain tumour):

After passing long hours in the lab, and getting home at dawn, I just sit down and write. It makes me feel a bit like Jekyll and Hyde, though I'm not sure which me is which.

Kaufmann's last published book, El Lago, for which she was partly inspired by the searches for the Loch Ness Monster, tells the fictional story of a 1975 scientific expedition to find a mythical monster known as "Nahuelito" ("Little Nahuel"), in the remote Lake Nahuel Huapi in Patagonia.

It is the era of Argentina's military dictatorship and the heroine Ana, leader of the expedition, which includes two elderly Hungarian refugees from the Nazis, uncovers monsters and brutality she had not bargained for, including within her own family's past.

Phil Davison

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot