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Manuel Puig (born Juan Manuel Puig Delledonne) (December 28, 1932 - July 22, 1990) was an Argentine author. Among his best known novels are La traición de Rita Hayworth (1968) (Betrayed by Rita Hayworth), Boquitas pintadas (1969) (Heartbreak Tango), and El beso de la mujer araña (1976) (Kiss of the Spider Woman), which was made into a film by the Argentine-Brazilian director Héctor Babenco, and in 1993 into a Broadway musical.
Manuel Puig was born in General Villegas (in Buenos Aires province). After unsuccessfully studying architecture in the Universidad de Buenos Aires, he began working as a film archivist and editor in the city of Buenos Aires and later, in Italy after winning a scholarship from the Italian Institute of Buenos Aires. Puig's dream was to become a screenwriter to write TV shows and movies. His career as a screenwriter never took off, however. In the 1960s, he moved back to Buenos Aires, where he penned his first major novel, La traición de Rita Hayworth. Because he had leftist political tendencies and also foresaw a rightist wave in Argentina, Puig moved to Mexico in 1973, where he wrote his later works (including El beso de la mujer araña).
Much of Puig's work can be seen as pop art. Perhaps due to his work in film and television, Puig managed to create a writing style that incorporated elements of these mediums, such as montage and the use of multiple points of view. He also made much use of popular culture (for example, soap opera) in his works. In Latin American literary histories, he is presented as a writer who belongs to the Postboom and Post-modernist schools.
Puig lived in exile throughout most of his life. In 1989 Puig moved from Mexico City to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he died in 1990. In the official biography, Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fiction, his close friend Suzanne Jill Levine writes that Puig had been in pain for a few days prior to being admitted to a hospital, where he was told that his gallbladder was inflamed and would have to be taken out. After the surgery, while Puig was recovering, he began to choke and gasp. The medical team was unable to help Puig. His lungs had filled with fluid, and he died of a heart attack at 4:55 a.m. on July 22, 1990.
The 2004 movie Vereda Tropical, directed by Javier Torres, depicts the period when Puig lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The writer's role is played by the actor Fabio Aste.
Critics such as Pamela Bacarisse divides Puig's work into two parts: his early novels, which "attracted an enormous audience by weaving into his narratives the artistic 'sub-products' of mass culture"; and his later books which have "lost their popular appeal" as they evidence "a depressing, even unpalatable, vision of life, no longer even superficially sweetened by palliatives as the mass-media elements are left behind".
Three translations of his work have been recently reprinted by Dalkey Archive Press:
- 2009: Betrayed by Rita Hayworth
- 2010: The Buenos Aires Affair
- 2010: Heartbreak Tango
List of works
- 1968: La traición de Rita Hayworth
- 1969: Boquitas pintadas; Seix Barral, 2004, ISBN 978-950-731-430-8
- 1973: The Buenos Aires Affair (The Buenos Aires Affair)
- 1976: El beso de la mujer araña; José Amícola, Jorge Panesi, Editors, Fondo De Cultura Economica, 2002, ISBN 978-84-89666-45-0
- 1979: Pubis angelical (Pubis Angelical) Seix Barral, 1979, ISBN 978-84-322-1379-3
- 1980: Maldición eterna a quien lea estas páginas (Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages)
- 1982: Sangre de amor correspondido (Blood of Requited Love)
- 1988: Cae la noche tropical (Tropical Night Falling)
Plays and screenplays
- 1983: Bajo un manto de estrellas. Beatriz Viterbo Editora. 1997. ISBN 978-950-845-060-9.
- Under a mantle of stars: a play in two acts, Lumen Books, 1985, ISBN 978-0-930829-00-1
- 1983: El beso de la mujer araña (Kiss of the Spider Woman)
- 1985: La cara del villano
- 1985: Recuerdo de Tijuana
- 1991: Vivaldi: A Screenplay (in Review of Contemporary Fiction №3)
- 1997: El misterio del ramo de rosas (1987) (Mystery of the Rose Bouquet)
- 1997: La tajada; Gardel, uma lembranca
- Bacarisse, Pamela (1988). The Necessary Dream: A Study of the Novels of Manuel Puig. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. ISBN 978-0-7083-1011-3.
- Levine, Suzanne Jill (2000). Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fictions. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-28190-8.
- Kathleen Wheaton (Winter II 1989). "Manuel Puig, The Art of Fiction No. 114". The Paris Review.
- A Conversation with Manuel Puig (Interview took place during a weekend in September 1979, after Puig was part of a Congress of Hispanic-American Writers in Medellin, Colombia.)
- Manuel Puig at Find a Grave
- Manuel Puig: Una aproximación biográfica. Eine Multimedia-Biographie auf CD-ROM. Buenos Aires 2008. ISBN 978-987-05-4332-9