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Somoza, José Carlos

Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

(1959-    ) Cuban-born author, in Spain from infancy, several of whose novels are thrillers, some intriguingly metafictional (see Fabulation), including his first tale to be translated, La caverna de los ideas (2000; trans Sonia Soto as The Athenian Murders 2002), where what seems a complexly contrived investigation into hermetic truths possibly contained in the eponymous mystery (written circa 400 BCE) turns Equipoisally into a kind of Virtual Reality game. The twentieth-century investigators – one of whom is convinced that the tale is an encoding of the Labours of Hercules, and the other (correctly) that it manifests Plato's Theory of Forms – ultimately discover that they are epiphenomena of Platonic Forms, and that they in fact inhabit the Utopia he described in his Republic (written circa 350 BCE), where in the famous Allegory of the Cave he dramatizes his argument that what humans perceive as real are shadows of the Real. In Clara y la penumbra (2001; trans as The Art of Murder 2005), set in the immediate Near Future, models are paid to become living simulacra of artworks, being required to maintain their poses for up to twelve hours a day. Sometimes they represent classic paintings; but sometimes they become victims of contemporary snuff art (see Horror in SF). In Zig Zag (2006; trans Lisa Dillman 2007) the Invention of a Time Viewer gives experimenters sights of Dinosaurs and other select vistas of the past; but the device proves devastatingly to be interactive. [JC]

José Carlos Somoza

born Havana, Cuba: 13 November 1959

works (selected)

  • La caverna de los ideas (Madrid, Spain: Alfaguara, 2000) [binding unknown/]
    • The Athenian Murders (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2002) [trans by Sonia Soto of the above: hb/]
  • Clara y la penumbra (Barcelona, Spain: Planeta, 2001) [binding unknown/]
  • Zig Zag (Barcelona, Spain: Plaza and Janés, 2006) [binding unknown/]
    • Zig Zag (New York: HarperCollins/Rayo, 2007) [trans by Lisa Dillman of the above: hb/Mumtaz Mustafa]


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