The Lizard's Tale

Trade Cloth – $27.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2702-9
Publication Date
October 2011
Page Count
216 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Lizard's Tale

A Novel
José Donoso, translated from the Spanish by Suzanne Levine

Winner of the 2012 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Translation

José Donoso was the leading Chilean representative of the Latin American “Boom” of the sixties and seventies that included Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Manuel Puig, among others. Written as a draft in 1973, set aside, and forgotten, The Lizard’s Tale was discovered among Donoso’s papers at Princeton University by his daughter after his death. Edited for publication by critic and poet Julio Ortega, it was published posthumously in Spanish under the title Lagartija sin cola in 2007. Suzanne Jill Levine, who knew Donoso and translated two of his earlier works, brings the book to an English-language audience for the first time. 

Defeated and hiding in his Barcelona apartment, painter Antonio Muñoz-Roa—Donoso’s alter ego—relates the story of his flight with Luisa, his cousin, lover, and benefactor, after his scandalous desertion from the “Informalist” movement (a witty reference to a contemporary Spanish art movement and possibly an allusion to the Boom as well), in which he had been a member of a certain standing. Frustrated, old, and alone, the artist looks back on his years in the small town of Dors, a place he unsuccessfully tried to rescue from the crushing advance of modernity, and on the decline of his own family, also threatened by the changing times. In Levine’s able hands, Donoso’s clear prose shines through, forming a compact, powerful, and still-relevant meditation on the commercialization of art and the very places we inhabit.
About the Author

José Donoso Yáñez(1924-1996), a Chilean novelist and short-story writer, was one of the central figures in the Boom, the transformation of Latin American literature that began in the 1960s. His fiction depicted a society undone by moral decadence. His novels include Coronation (1955), The Obscene Bird of Night (1970), and A House in the Country (1978), an allegory of Chile under Pinochet's dictatorship.

Suzanne Jill Levine is an award-winning translator and the author of numerous studies in Latin American literature. She has translated works by Adolfo Bioy Casares, Jorge Luis Borges, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and Manuel Puig. She is a professor in the Spanish Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"In Levine's ruminative and rhapsodic translation, the familiar character of a tortured artist becomes human, and readers come to understand a man who temporarily finds refuge from modern life on a road trip to the countryside, and during an escapade in house renovation." —Publishers Weekly