My photo
Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Chapel Hill, Boston, Istanbul, Calgary, Washington DC, Austin, Tunis, Warszawa and counting

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I had found José Donoso randomly on Wikipedia under a grouping of Chilean authors. His book, Curfew, chosen as randomly proved as perfect to whet my appetite while flying towards Santiago de Chile. Donoso tells the story of a popular left-leaning singer, not a hero, no communist activist, not active in any kind of resistance, coming home to a Chile run by Pinochet's government agents after 13 years of a self-imposed exile. The day of his arrival happens to coincide with the wake for Matilde Neruda (the late poet Pablo Neruda's wife) and our hero learns about himself and how Chilean society has evolved through his old friends that he runs across constantly.

Donoso in a novel with autobiographical elements, the author went back to Chile with the dictatorship still very much in place, offers a haunting picture of how every day life in Chile was impacted by the whims of and fears from a dictatorial and corrupt regime. Apart from a disappointing Isabel Allende novel a few years ago, I had never read anything by a Chilean author. This book was not only easily accessible (unlike some of the other books I appreciate) but it also gave me a real taste of (pas) life in Chile and a desire to know more about the country and its culture. While most people undoubtedly will not go to this forlorn country on the coast of South America, Curfew is a great way of exploring Santiago without actually being in the country.

No comments: