Jorge Enrique Adoum: Entre Marx y una mujer desnuda [Between Marx and a Naked Woman]
There is no way to summarise this novel though the title – a wonderful title – gives away some of it. Adoum himself says that it is like a Russian matrushka, with more and more being revealed as each doll is opened. He describes it as un libro sobre un escritor que piensa escribir un libro sobre un escritor [a book about a writer who is thinking of writing a book about a writer]. That in part is what it is about – a book about writing a book, the relationship between the writer and his characters, the relationship between the writer and his readers and what it means to write. But though it is about himself – the fictitious author – it is much more about writing. He quotes Claude Lévi-Strauss, who said The hero of the novel is the novel itself.
If there is a plot, it tells the story of the Author and his writing, his love for Rosana (whom he looks at in various ways, primarily as a writer), his friends and his activities in a left-wing anti-Government political movement in the Sixties. But everything revolves around the role of the writer and it is never entirely clear whether these characters are real or made up. This is further complicated by the obvious mixing of dream sequences with clearly realist sequences as well as the strange presence of the wheelchair-bound political activist Galo Gálvez. Of course, in the hands of a lesser writer, all of this could be a mess but Adoum handles it extraordinarily well, dissecting the novel – and not just his novel but many, many other novels and writers – his characters and his life in a way which makes you wonder why it has not been translated into English.
First published in 1976 by Siglo veintiuno, Mexico
No English translation