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Jose Donoso ’51

Published in Apr. 2, 1997, issue

When Jose died Dec. 7, 1996, of cancer at his home in Santiago, Chile, the class lost one of its most illustrious members.

He was in the forefront of Latin American literature. The NY Times wrote, "[He] created multilayered visions of social disintegration and human fallibility that compared with . . . Gabriel García Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, and Mario Vargas Llosa." The Obscene Bird of Night, which many considered his masterpiece, was published by Knopf in 1971. The New Yorker considered Jose to be "one of the seminal writers of the extraordinary boom in Latin American fiction . . . "

The post-Allende upheavals in Chile caused Jose to spend many years in Spain, where he was deemed one of its national treasures. In 1987 King Juan Carlos decorated him with the Order of King Alfonso X el Sabio and in 1994 with the Grand Cross of Civilian Merit. In the U.S., his novel The Coronation won the 1962 William Faulkner Prize, and in 1990 Chile gave him its highest award, the Chilean National Literary Prize.

Jose studied at the U. of Chile before coming to Princeton as a junior. He majored in English, wrote stories for the Nassau Lit, and was a member of Quadrangle Club. He later taught at Princeton and at the U. of Iowa.

Jose is survived by his wife, Maria Pilar, and their daughter, Pilar. The class extends its deep sympathy for their loss.

The Class of 1951

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