Don Bueno by Zulfikar Ghose - review by Nicholas Rankin

Nicholas Rankin

Patriarchal Patterns

Don Bueno


Hutchinson 244pp £8.95 order from our bookshop

Texas, once Mexican, is well situated as a confluence of Anglo-Saxon and Latino writing. Zulfikar Ghose has been a professor of English at the University of Austin in that state of cattle, oil and chicanos since 1969. Born in Pakistan, raised in India and educated in Britain, he called his autobiography Confessions of a Native-Alien. That half-in, half-out condition is a fate he shares with other writers of his subcontinent, like V S and Shiva Naipaul, and Salman Rushdie. All of them have been drawn, in some way, to South America. Salman Rushdie has generously acknowledged One Hundred Years of Solitude as an influential forbear of Midnight’s Children. Zulfikar Ghose quarries the same vein of literary possibilities, but open-cast: he writes directly about the continent of South America. His last novel was A New History of Torments, whose title echoes Borgesian ones (Universal History of Infamy, History of Eternity, etc) and whose techniques of scrambling dream and allegory and fantasy recalled Gabriel García Márquez. Texas is closest to those countries of the south, below America’s belt, the region where machismo is king. Zulfikar Ghose is drawn by the mystique of blood and lust, the violent desires entangled at the crux of the cult of maleness.

The plot of the novel is cyclic; Don Bueno himself an endlessly recurring character through male generations programmed to enact the same desires and the same death. Young Bonaparte Calderón is deserted by his father; he grows up highly-sexed, criminal and irresponsible in his turn, and abandons the women he

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