The Obscene Bird of Night

This haunting jungle of a novel has been hailed as “a masterpiece” by Luis Bunuel and “one of the great novels not only of Spanish America, but of our time” by Carlos Fuentes. The story of the last member of the aristocratic Azcoitia family, a monstrous mutation protected from the knowledge of his deformity by being surrounded with other freaks as companions, The Obscene Bird of Night is a triumph of imaginative, visionary writing. Its luxuriance, fecundity, horror, and energy will not soon fade from the reader’s mind.

The story is like a great puzzle . . . invested with a vibrant, almost tangible reality.
The New York Times

Although many of the other “boom” writers may have received more attention—especially Fuentes and Vargas Llosa—Donoso and his masterpiece may be the most lasting, visionary, strangest of the books from this time period. Seriously, it’s a novel about the last member of an aristocratic family, a monstrous mutant, who is surrounded by other freaks so as to not feel out of place.
Publishers Weekly

José Donoso Yáñez was was born to a well-to-do family in Santiago, Chile. He attended the Grange School, Chile’s most prestigious private school, and studied English literature at the University of Chile. A grant from the Doherty Foundation allowed him to continue his studies at Princeton University. He returned to Chile after graduating from Princeton, where he taught English Literature at the Universidad Católica, wrote for the weekly magazine Ercilla, and produced his some of his own fiction. His impressive output during these years allowed him to receive an appointment as Professor of Creative Writing in the School of Journalism of the University of Chile and the Chile-Italia prize for Journalism. Donoso returned to the United States in the 1960s to serve as a Visiting Professor at the Iowa Writers Workshop. He spent the following two decades in “voluntary exile” for both personal and political reasons, mostly in Spain, returning to the United States for sporadic teaching assignments. He returned in Santiago in the 1980s, where he died of cancer in 1996.

Hardie St. Martin was one of the most prominent Spanish to English translators of the last century. During his long and prolific career, he received accolades including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a P.E.N. International Translation Award, and an ALTA award for excellence in editing and translation. Hardie died in Barcelona in 2007.

Dr. Leonard Mades was born in New York and educated at Brooklyn College and Columbia University. In addition to translating from Spanish and writing his own work, he taught literature at Hunter College for many years.