Quarantine: A Novel

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Dalkey Archive Press, 1994 - Fiction - 122 pages
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Quarantine is the newest novel by one of Spain's most provocative writers. The novel recounts the forty days in which, according to Islamic tradition, the soul wanders between death and eternity, still in possession of a tenuous, dreamlike body. After the unexpected death of a friend, the narrator - a writer like Goytisolo - follows her in his imagination into this otherworld where all kinds of implausible (or are they?) things occur. Meanwhile, television and radio report the 40-day war in the Persian Gulf, and images of war's destruction mingle with the narrator's vivid imagination of the torments of the underworld. Simultaneously, the narrator is writing the novel we are reading, for writing itself is a kind of quarantine where the writer withdraws from the world to wander in the otherworld of the imagination. Quarantine is thus both an exploration of the human condition and an investigation of the writing process. It celebrates friendship and denounces war with equal force, and despite the grim themes is filled with humor, shocking surprises, playful language, and love.

 

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Quarantine: A novel

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Goytisolo, whose title refers to the Islamic tradition of wandering for 40 days between death and eternity, follows a recently deceased female friend who is also a novelist. It also symbolizes the ... Read full review

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About the author (1994)

Goytisolo first became known in the United States for his novel The Young Assassins (1954), the story of juvenile delinquents corrupted by social conditions during and immediately after the Spanish civil war. His depictions of the spiritual emptiness and moral decay of Spain under the Franco regime led to the censorship of some of his works there, and he moved to Paris in 1957. In 1966 he published Marks of Identity, which would eventually form a trilogy with Count Julian (1970) and Juan the Landless (1975). Count Julian is an exile's view of Spain, with Spanish history, literature, and language derisively viewed for the purpose of destroying them so that they might be reinvented. Formally, it is a "new novel" along the lines of Robbe-Grillet's formulations. Makbara (1980), a misogynous novel, also attacks capitalism. Landscapes after the Battle (1982), based loosely on the life of Lewis Carroll is, in fact, a self-conscious novel concerned mainly with the problems involved in writing novels.

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