The Obscene Bird of Night: Unabridged, Centennial Edition

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About the Author

One of the great Boom writers, José Donoso (1924-1996) wrote novels, novellas, short stories, and poetry. He worked stints as a shepherd in Patagonia and a stevedore in Buenos Aires before studying at Princeton and teaching at the Iowa Writers Workshop. He was twice a Guggenheim Fellow and won the William Faulkner Foundation Prize as well as Chile's highest literary honor, the National Literature Prize, among many other awards.

Leonard Mades (1918-2017) taught comparative literature, French and Spanish at Hunter College, from which he retired as Professor Emeritus. The winner of a PEN International Prize for Translation, in the 1950s he worked for CARE in El Salvador, Haiti, and Bolivia.
Megan McDowell has won the English PEN award, the Premio Valle-Inclán, and a 2020 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; she also has been nominated four times for the International Booker Prize. She won the 2022 National Book Award in translation alongside Samanta Schweblin for Seven Empty Houses.
Hardie St. Martin was born in 1924 in Belize. The translator of Vincente Aleixandre, Roque Dalton, Enrique Lihn, Nicanor Parra, and Luisa Valenzuela, he was a Guggenheim fellow and won a PEN International Translation Award. He died in 2007.


One of the great novels not only of Spanish America but of our time.--Carlos Fuentes
Donoso, as I have long believed, belongs to that small company of storytellers who write not for a region but for the entire world: a gigantic masterpiece.--Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
It would be a crass understatement to say that this book is a challenging read; it's totally and unapologetically psychotic. It's also insanely gothic, brilliantly engaging, exquisitely written, filthy, sick, terrifying, supremely perplexing, and somehow connives to make the brave reader feel like a tiny, sleeping gnat being sucked down a fabulously kaleidoscopic dream plughole.--Nicola Barker "The Guardian"
Donoso has learned to multiply by myth and this gives his work a resonance and amplitude that puts him alongside Carpentier, Cortázar and Garcia Marquez.--Paul West "The Washington Post Book World"
To say he's the best Chilean novelist of the century is to insult him. I don't think Donoso had such paltry ambitions.--Roberto Bolaño
Donoso is one of the most important contemporary Spanish-language writers. ... He gave the novel a very personal touch, distancing it from traditionally regionalist, realistic Latin American literature, he greatly modernized it. This was thanks, on the one hand, to a very broad literary education, to his knowledge of English literature, which he preferred, and also to his drawing from an inner life that was original, rich, with great imagery and originality, a world constructed in his image and semblance and into which he poured his manias, his fantasies, his most secret ghosts, which was furthermore constructed with great skill, with deep technical knowledge of the resources of modern literature.--Mario Vargas Llosa
With this book Donoso becomes a world novelist.-- "Newsweek"
The story line is like a great puzzle invested with a vibrant, almost tangible reality.-- "The New York Times"
A challenging but wonderfully strange read.--NoViolet Bulawayo
Yes, a miracle, a climactic act of magic for a book that is itself both Miracle and Monster, like the best of this century's American fiction. I have no idea what fate awaits it, but it certainly deserves to take its place alongside the major works of Asturias and Fuentes, Cortazar, Burges and Rulfo, Vargas Llosa and Garcia Marquez, and never mind that 'the old woman plotted everything.' She and 'The Obscene Bird of Night' are part of our mainstream, after all, Anglo- and Hispano-American alike. The horrible bat-winged head of the beautiful Blessed Ines pursues us all.--Robert Coover "The New York Times"
Donoso must be counted as one of the spinal writers of the extraordinary boom in Latin-American fiction which spread through the reading world from the mid-sixties on.--Alastair Reed "The New Yorker"
Jose Donoso is my favorite author of the Latin American boom (better than Gabriel Garcia Márquez).--Fernanda Melchor