Friday, January 20, 2006

Curfew by Jose Donoso

Review of José Donoso's Curfew

The exile's return to his native land is the subject of some of the best writing from Latin America in recent years. Julio Cortazar in ''Hopscotch'' and Alejo Carpentier in ''The Lost Steps'' have played brilliant variations on the theme ''you can't go home again.'' Jose Donoso returned to Chile in 1980 after 15 years in Europe. He now lives in Santiago. In ''Curfew'' he has created a small masterpiece in the familiar genre. The book's protagonist is a famous singer of protest songs named Manungo Vera, just returned to Chile after 13 years in Paris. He hasn't been off the plane an hour when someone asks him the inevitable question: ''How does it feel to be living under a dictatorship?'' We already know by then that ''Curfew'' is both the story of a man's search for his roots and a portrait of Chile in the second decade of a military dictatorship no one knows how to get rid of.

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