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A Funny Dirty Little War

By Osvaldo Soriano & Nick Caistor
A Funny Dirty Little War by Osvaldo Soriano & Nick Caistor digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

"This fierce little novel tells the story of a political con­frontation in a remote village in Argentina. Obscure differences between Peronist supporters and leaders escalate in a crescendo of violence to the final massacre.

The characters, who with each event evolve from the comic and grotesque to the tragic, are observed by the author with a cool, dispassionate gaze, though in end we are left with a feeling of bitter pity.

This is because, in spite of all their moral and mental wretchedness, in spite of the emptiness of their ambitions and fanaticism, they themselves are poor victims."

Italo Calvino

A Funny Dirty Little War marries the Keystone Kops and Kafka.

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About Osvaldo Soriano

OSVALDO SORIANO was born in 1943 by the sea in Mar del Plata, spent much of his childhood in small towns in Patagonia, then moved to Buenos Aires in the late 1960s determined to become a famous soccer star or to write about it. He loved boxing and all sports, but the cigarettes were already slowing him down (he died of lung cancer in 1997 at 54), so he became a sports journalist instead. He joined the news daily La Opinión when it was founded in 1971 by Jacobo Timerman. During Soriano's days as a staff writer, there were various clampdowns on political opinion, and after six months when none of his articles had been accepted, he began writing a story in which a character named Osvaldo Soriano reconstructs the life of the English actor Stan Laurel. This work became his first novel, Triste, solitario y final (Sad, Lonely and Final, 1973) a parody on cinematic themes set in Los Angeles with the fictional detective Philip Marlowe as his joint investigator. Raymond Chandler's famous hard-boiled writing style -- which Soriano studied and translated -- plus his love of movies helped Soriano develop his own writing style, learning dialogue, how to pace a story, and slapstick humour from the big screen. La Opinión became a prominent government critic and revealed the growing horrors of the Dirty War. Jacobo Timerman and other staff members began to be abducted, and after March 1976, when the Argentinian military seized power, Soriano made his way to Belgium, where he met his wife Catherine, and then to Paris, where he lived in exile until 1984. While in France he became a friend of another Argentinian exile Julio Cortázar, with whom he founded a short-lived monthly magazine Sin censura. He also wrote in exile his novel A Funny Dirty Little War (1979), which brought him critical fame in Europe, translation into English by Readers International, and other translations into other languages. The novel was also made into an award-winning film by Argentinian director Hector Olivera. In 1981 he published the sequel to A Funny Dirty Little War entitled Winter Quarters, featuring two of Soriano's favourite types -- a wornout boxer and a tango singer -- also translated and published by Readers International. After the fall of the military junta in 1983, Osvaldo Soriano returned to Buenos Aires, taking up his old nocturnal life, sleeping all day, getting up around five in the afternoon, and talking, writing and smoking until dawn. His novels written in exile began to be published inside Argentina -- selling over 100,000 copies apiece in a country where 1500 copies puts a book on the best-seller list. His journalism written after his return, mostly for the new publication Pagina 12 was seen as important in helping his fellow Argentinians recover a sense of decency and pride as the country struggled to emerge from its recent bloody past.

Nick Caistor

NICK CAISTOR is a British journalist and translator who has worked for the BBC Latin American Service, for Index on Censorship magazine and for other London-based international organisations. After graduate studies in French and Spanish, including an M.A. in Spanish language and literature from London University, he lived for two years in Argentina, and he has continued travelling extensively in the region. He edited Nunca Más, the famous report on political killings and disappearances in Argentina, and also The Faber Book of Latin American Short Stories. In 1984 his highly acclaimed translation of To Bury Our Fathers from Readers International introduced Sergio Ramírez to English-language audiences for the first time, and his translation of Ramírez' Stories also was published by Readers International (1987). In 1986 his translation of Osvaldo Soriano's A Funny Dirty Little War from Readers International introduced this acclaimed writer -- the best-selling writer in Argentina at the time -- to English-language audiences. Winter Quarters, the sequel to A Funny Dirty Little War, was translated by Nick Caistor and published by Readers International in 1990. Nick Caistor's other translations include a second novel Castigo Divino by Sergio Ramírez, poems by Claribel Alegría and other El Salvadorean and Nicaraguan poets, stories by Julio Cortázar and Haroldo Conti and the novel The Shipyard by Uruguayan Juan Carlos Onetti.

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