Chilean writer José Donoso is one of a handful of authors inevitably mentioned in relationship to the "boom" in Spanish American literature during the 1960s and 1970s. His name is frequently linked with those of other Latin writers such as García Márquez, Vargas Llosa, Fuentes, Rulfo, and Cortázar. Like his contemporaries, Donoso blends the physical and the psychological in his fiction. The perceptions of his characters are constantly changing. For Donoso, "reality" is a state of mind always subject to the imagination, and nothing is stable.
In this volume, Magnarelli provides a comprehensive study of Donoso's major works which have been translated into English. These include Coronation, Hell Has No Limits, This Sunday, The Obscene Bird of Night, A House in the Country, Sacred Families (a collection of three short novels), and Charleston and Other Stories (a volume of short stories). The close readings of Understanding José Donoso explicate the individual texts, yet the critic never loses sight of the broader context of Latin American and Western culture, civilization, and thought. Magnarelli continually draws the reader's attention to the interrelations among the works and places those works within the framework of other Latin American writing, recent sociopolitical events in Latin America, and contemporary trends in Western literature and ideas. As she traces the development of Donoso's major themes and motifs from his early short stories to his recent Curfew, Magnarelli highlights Donoso's recurrent issues of mask, power, and perception.
Sharon Magnarelli is a professor in the Department of Foreign Languages at Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, Connecticut. She holds a Ph.D. in Romance Studies from Cornell University. She has published numerous articles on Donoso in a variety of scholarly journals and is author of The Lost Rib: Female Characters in the Spanish American Novel and Reflections/Refractions: Reading Luisa Valenzuela.