Pedro Juan Gutierrez, , trans. from the Spanish by Peter Lownds. . Carroll & Graf, $24 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-1499-5

Gutiérrez's first book published in the U.S., Dirty Havana Trilogy , was a series of loosely connected vignettes chronicling the rough and tumble lives of Cuban down-and-outs buoyed by cheap rum, marijuana, petty crime and insatiable sexual appetites. Like that work, this murkily autobiographical novel is narrated by Pedro Juan, a 50 year-old former journalist and indomitable urban flaneur. When we first meet Pedro Juan, he's seducing Agneta, a frigid administrator at a Swedish university, with nude photos sent in the mail. At the same time he is busy with Gloria, a prostitute in his crumbling Havana apartment building who'd like him to settle down and give her babies. Intractable as ever, Pedro Juan goes to Stockholm for a literature seminar organized by Agneta, who becomes his "Swedish lover." Restless after a few months of solitude, salmon and a woman who just can't let loose between the sheets, he returns to Cuba and his "depraved" Gloria, a woman who enjoys being whipped in bed. Lurid sadomasochism, graphic descriptions of bestiality and generally brutish behavior (the "animal" of the title refers to Pedro Juan, who boasts that "what attracts me is filth") could offend, though most of the Hobbesian sentiment is excessive to the point of the grotesquely absurd. A colorful mix of Fellini and Bergman, Gutiérrez's atmospheric novel deftly mixes the rude with the refined. (Jan.)