Marks of Identity

Juan Goytisolo, Author, Gregory Rabassa, Translator Serpent's Tail $15.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-85242-134-2

The reissue of this 1969 translation of a Spanish tour-de-force should captivate those who prize the elegant lyricism and complexity of Latin American fiction. Eschewing political dogma, Goytisolo's ( Forbidden Territory )BIP theme--explored in styles ranging from stream-of-consciousness to those imitative of bureaucratic memoranda--is exile and expatriation. The hero returns from Paris to Goytisolo's native Barcelona after ten years' absence, confronting the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and his ruptured relationship to Catholicism and machismo culture. Patience is required to navigate Goytisolo's often serpentine sentences, many of which consume several pages. But the prose, presented here in a luxuriant translation, attains hypnotic, incantatory powers. Its density is remarkably evocative: referring to one servant, for example, the narrator notes that she was ``less self-abnegating, however, his Aunt Mercedes would remind them, than that other legendary maid who after an existence of privation . . . left the entire amount of her savings to that scornful grandfather of his who had exploited her during her lifetime.'' (Oct.)