Luis Sepúlveda was born in Ovalle, Limarí Province in 4 October 1949. His father, José Sepúlveda, was a militant of the Chilean Communist Party and his mother, Irma Calfucura, was a nurse of Mapuche descent. After High School in Santiago, he studied theatre production at the National University of Chile.
Luis Sepúlveda was politically active first as a leader of the student movement and in the Salvador Allende administration in the department of cultural affairs where he was in charge of a series of cheap editions of classics for the general public. He also acted as a mediator between the government and Chilean companies.
After the Chilean coup of 1973 which brought to power General Augusto Pinochet he was jailed for two-and-a-half years and then obtained a conditional release through the efforts of the German branch of Amnesty International and was kept under house arrest.
He managed to escape and went underground for nearly a year. With the help of a friend who was head of the Alliance française in Valparaíso he set up a drama group that became the first cultural focus of resistance. He was rearrested and given a life sentence (later reduced to twenty-eight years) for treason and subversion.
In 1979 he joined the Simón Bolívar International Brigade which was fighting in Nicaragua and after the victory of the revolution he started working as a journalist and one year later he left for Europe.
He went to Hamburg in Germany because of his admiration of German literature (he learned the language in prison) especially the romantics as Novalis and Friedrich Hölderlin and worked there as journalist traveling widely in Latin America and Africa.
In 1982 he came in contact with Greenpeace and worked until 1987 as a crewmember on one of their ships. He later acted as co-ordinator between various branches of the organization.
In 2009 he won the Premio Primavera de Novela for his novel La sombra de lo que fuimos’. He died on 16/4/2020 by corona virus in Spain.