Juan Jose Arreola

“Juan Jose Arreola: (1918-2001) Mexican short-story writer and dramatist. Arreola had a vivid imagination, a pointed, wildly comic humor, and an extraordinary command of the Spanish language and of short forms of literature. Arreola’s workshops have trained a flock of Mexico’s new writers, and he hosted a popular TV show that analyzed literary subjects. Though he began in theater, his fame rests on his stories, fables, and vignettes which are often only a page long. Confabulario (1952; tr Confabulario and Other Inventions, 1964) is perhaps his most important prose work; it features rueful and hilarious meditations on the battle between the sexes, politics, religious hypocrisy, and the frustrations of daily life. His only novel, La feria (1963; tr The Fair, 1977) depicts, through and impressive array of colloquial nuance, the daily life of a small town as a collective portrait instead of focusing on a few protagonists. Among his other collections of short fictions is Palindroma (1971), which includes a remarkable play, “Tercera llamada,” a meta-theatrical reworking of the Adam and Eve myth that moves between the human and archetypal levels with great skill and humor. Arreola’s influences (Camus, Kafka, Borges) do not diminish his brilliant contribution to the modern Latin American short story, which places him alongside Rulfo, Quiroga, Borges, and Pinera. Arreola won the Juan Rulfo Prize in Literature in 1992.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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