Well-known novelist assumes post of Chilean FM

BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Roberto Ampuero, a well-known Chilean novelist, assumed the post of Chilean Foreign Minister on Sunday, joining another 22 newlyappointed government ministers in forming the cabinet of President Sebastian Pinera, who was sworn in on the same day. 

A leading author of crime fiction in Chile, Ampuero, 65, is known for a series of detective novels featuring exiled Cuban detective Cayetano Brule, including his debut work "Who Killed Christian Kustermann?" in 1993.

Other notable works by Ampuero include "Stockholm Lovers," "Greek Passion," and "The Neruda Case." In addition to being well received in Spanish-speaking countries, his works have also been translated into more than 10 languages, such as Chinese, English, French, German and Swedish.

The author's appetite for stories about dissidents relates to his personal experience, and some of his works are based on his own life in exile after the 1973 military coup in Chile.During his 20year life abroad, Ampuero had lived in Cuba, former East Germany and former West Germany, before returning to Chile in 1993. He moved to Sweden in 1997 and resided in Stockholm until 2000, when he settled in Iowa City in the United States to teach at the University of Iowa.

Contrary to his fame in literature, Ampuero is a relative neophyte in diplomatic affairs. His limited political career saw him serve as Chilean Ambassador to Mexico and Chile's Minister of Culture during Pinera's first presidential term between 2010 and 2014.

His nomination surprised the local media when Pinera announced the appointments of 23 new ministers in January. Critics worry about his lack of experience in diplomacy, saying that dealing with sensitive relations with countries like Cuba and Venezuela can be challenging for him.

Zhao Deming, who translated Ampuero's works into Chinese, said the novelist's new role in the government may "unfortunately" mean him bidding farewell to the literary world in his most productive years, adding that he hoped Ampuero will "take into account his literary strengths in diplomatic policies to promote cultural diplomacy between Chile and China."

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