Asleep in the Sun
Publication Date: August 31, 2004
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Lucio, a normal man in a normal (nosy) city neighborhood with normal problems with his wife (not the easiest person to get along with) and family and job (he lost it) finds he has a much bigger problem: his wife is a dog. At first, it doesn't seem like such a problem, because the German shepherd inhabiting his wife's body is actually a good deal more agreeable than his wife herself, now occupying the body of the same German shepherd in a mental hospital run by scientists who, it appears, have designs on the whole neighborhood. But then Lucio has a sense, however confused, of what's right, which is an even bigger problem yet.
Asleep in the Sun is the great work of the Argentine master Adolfo Bioy Casares's later years. Like his legendary Invention of Morel, it is an intoxicating mixture of fantasy, sly humor, and menace. Whether read as a fable of modern politics, a meditation on the elusive parameters of the self, or a most unusual love story, Bioy's book is an almost scarily perfect comic turn, as well as a pure delight.
Adolfo Bioy Casares (1914–1999) was born in Buenos Aires, the child of wealthy parents. He began to write in the early Thirties, and his stories appeared in the influential magazine Sur, through which he met his wife, the painter and writer Silvina Ocampo, as well Jorge Luis Borges, who was to become his mentor, friend, and collaborator. In 1940, after writing several novice works, Bioy published the novella The Invention of Morel, the first of his books to satisfy him, and the first in which he hit his characteristic note of uncanny and unexpectedly harrowing humor. Later publications include stories and novels, among them A Plan for Escape, A Dream of Heroes, and Asleep in the Sun. Bioy also collaborated with Borges on an Anthology of Fantastic Literature and a series of satirical sketches written under the pseudonym of H. Bustos Domecq.
James Sallis’s books include ten novels, multiple collections of short stories, poems and essays, three volumes of musicology, a biography of Chester Himes, and a translation of Raymond Queneau’s Saint Glinglin. He reviews widely for The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, and other publications, and writes a monthly column for The Boston Globe.
Suzanne Jill Levine is the author of numerous studies in Latin American literature and the translator of works by Adolfo Bioy Casares, Jorge Luis Borges, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and Manuel Puig, among other distinguished writers. Levine’s most recent book is Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fictions. She is a professor in the Spanish Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“A sweet, increasingly surreal fable….The fantastic events seem less momentous than the almost saintly likeableness of Lucio, one of those people whom things happen to with a cockeyed vengeance. Levine’s slangy, salt-of-the-earth translation helps to make this shapely and appealing."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Its broader themes of compatibility and well-being, and man’s attachment to place and routine, connect it with such older twentieth-century masterworks as Mann’s The Magic Mountain."
"A witty and ironic comment on our desires and the social structures we have created. This tale…weds laughter and terror in haunting fashion."
— Publishers Weekly