Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

From the beginning of his career as a novelist, Puig has been an international writer in that his narrative material and his own experience have not been limited to the Hispanic culture of his native Argentina. Puig grew up in a small town, General Villegas, which is transformed into Coronel Vallejos in Heartbreak Tango. He was educated in Argentina and in Rome, where he studied cinema and worked as a film director, and he has spent much of his life in European cities and in New York. The titles of his novels indicate both his international experience and the force of North American culture in South American life. One of his narratives, Maldición eterna a quien lea estas páginas (1980; An Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages, 1982), was written first in English, revised in Spanish for publication, and then rewritten in an English edition that incorporated the Spanish revisions. Boquitas pintadas was made into a film in 1974 (known in English as Painted Lips) by the Argentine director Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, and The Kiss of the Spider Woman was filmed in 1985 with an international cast and was directed by Hector Babenco.

The later novels of Puig are more clearly political than Betrayed by Rita Hayworth and Heartbreak Tango. Although the political themes seem at times to be directed at the oppression of Latin American governments, they are in fact an attack on the cultural...

(The entire section is 413 words.)