Cover image for Curfew
Donoso, Josbe, 1924-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Desesperanza. English
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Weidenfeld & Nicolson, [1988]

Physical Description:
pages cm
General Note:
Translation of: La desesperanza.
Format :

On Order


Author Notes

Donoso obsessive subject is the decay of the Chilean bourgeoisie, but he vigorously rejects anything reminiscent of traditional realism or the portrayal of regional customs. In This Sunday (1966), he focuses on a family's activities on Sundays in order to view the boredom, passions, and misery of Chilean bourgeois society and its servants. The Obscene Bird of Night (1970) deals with the decline of feudal society through the story of a landholding family in a kaleidoscopic vision of decay and outrageous behavior.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

An expatriate musician, Manungo Vera, who has achieved worldwide fame as a pop singer, returns to his native country, Chile, to attend the funeral of Pablo Neruda's widow. In the years of Vera's absence, the Pinochet regime has consolidated its power over the nation and by its repressive policies stifled the human spirit of the people. Into this maelstrom of political conflict and intellectual dissent the musician enters to examine what has happened to Chile and to reexamine what he has made of his own life. The catalyst for this reconsideration is a woman, once a friend of Vera's, who has become a terrorist operative and who now involves the unwitting musician in a deadly assignment. While this novel-by virtue of its contemporary setting-doesn't possess the magical historicity that distinguished Donoso's A House in the Country (Booklist 80:449 N 15 83), it is nonetheless a thought-provoking look at recent Latin American events and their effect on individual lives. JB. [OCLC] 87-34036

Publisher's Weekly Review

This is the political novel Donoso was unable to write while in exile from Chile. Unlike the allegorical A House in the Country, his seventh book provides a gritty, realistic, yet eloquent vision of the author's beleaguered homeland12 years into Pinochet's dictatorship. Manungo Vera, a pop singer who has had some success in Europe but is now on the way down, returns to Santiago and is swept up in preparations for the funeral of Matilde Neruda, widow of the poet. Vera meets an old lover, Judit Torre, at a bar. The radical daughter of a wealthy fathera front page headline called her a ``Debutante Turned Criminal''Judit symbolizes elitist alienation. After an intense bout of lovemaking, and a near brush with death, the two join the huge crowd that has gathered at the cemetery for the funeral, now an anarchic battleground as both the left and right try to manipulate the event to their own advantage. Time is compressed into 24 hours, giving a heady urgency to the lovers' plans. Donoso's powerful vision of contemporary Chileseen through the grotesque optic that is his trademarkmakes Curfew an important literary event. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The renowned Donoso, home in his native Chile after years of living abroad, tackles the post-Allende situation in his newest work. Pablo Neruda's widow, Matilde, has just died, and everyone is scurrying to turn the ritual of death into a power struggle. Meanwhile, a popular rock star returns from the haven of Paris and becomes involved with Judit Torre, rich girl-turned-leftist who has relatives in the Pinochet regime; together they witness the brutal death of a friend in a police station. Even as he recreates the suffocating atmosphere of a regime that has managed to stay in power through 13 years of lies, violence, and economic disaster, Donoso demonstrates that those who fight dictators may also be cowards or fools. Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In his finest novel since The Obscene Bird of Night (CH, Oct '73), Chile's best-established living writer breaks his silence about Chilean politics to portray the spiritual pauperization of his country under Pinochet. Matilde Neruda's wake and funeral serve as a backdrop to the book's action; Donoso lays bare a postheroic, post-Nerudian Chile where myths--be they biblical, folkloric, or cultural--redeem no one from a dehumanized obsession with politics. Manungo Vera, the protagonist, is an inglorious prodigal son, a folksinger returning to his country after exploiting its misery in his music. His Chilean consort Judit cannot live up to her biblical name; she turns violence on herself, instead of wreaking revenge on a Holofernes of the state. Even the ship of art--the Caleuche of Chilean lore--may no longer suffice to rescue Chileans from the morass of their politics. Neruda himself, whose poetic stature this novel confirms, appears less as a giant of the imagination than as gentrified collector and conspirator in Trotsky's death. Jackals of left and right wrangle over the poet's mortal remains, and Donoso exposes victims and victimizers alike for their opportunism and pettiness. Unlike his compatriots Ariel Dorfman and Isabel Allende, Donoso uses realism, not allegory, fantasy, or the baroque, as a tool to describe Chile's sorry current state. With unobtrusive mastery, Donoso turns his lifelong fascination with metamorphosis--in particular the mutation of men into dogs, dwarfs, and less-than-human monsters--to creating this honest portrait of life under dictatorship. Levels: graduate and upper-division undergraduate. M. L. Friedman Wake Forest University