A writer from Uruguay who had more influence on later major writers (Julio Cortazar, Italo Calvino, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to name a few) than his own commercial success, which is a shame because Filisberto Hernandez was a brilliant writer.
Off center, surreal, it’s hard to classify Hernandez though the influence of Proust is clearly evident. Bizarre stories where the everyday takes a turn towards the fantastic. The stories within are fable-like with their just off-kilter sensibility. There are moments where the reader is reminded of the ‘automatic writing’ experiments of the Surrealists, silent film comedy or just outright head scratching imagery where every day objects can often have a consciousness of their own.
Fans of Cortazar in particular will enjoy these strange tales and their inherent surrealism (a man who believes he’s a horse; a woman who never leaves her balcony; a theater usher whose eyes glow in the dark; a house full of life sized dolls that act out bizarre scenes, etc) appealed to me greatly. One of the lesser known Latin American writers for English readers but one English readers (and over all admirers of Latin American literature) must explore.
Translated by Luis Harss