A true representative of dirty realism, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez uses his common sweat-blood-and-sperm references in an unexpected, highly elliptical way, as a pattern for this collection of 55 short (to very short to flash) stories that give off the poetic atmosphere we encounter in a black-and-white film. Oxymoron if you think that the heroes in Melancholy of Lions are the well-known confounded sort of people we encounter in the rest of the Cuban author's prose – a man who systematically poisons his wife, an elderly doctor who specializes in abortions and imenoplasticas, transvestites, suicidals, prisoners, and other forfeited human beings struggling to sharpen their sense of life within. There are, also, the circus lions of the title, which plunge into depression when not fed on time. You can find some chocolate mice among them, too; and Gutiérrez himself who, like an angel by Wim Wenders, wanders in this grotesque universe and records the adventures of bodies and souls with exemplary condensation, critical choice of words and a strong and wide sense of scepticism. Magical decadent realism, indeed.
Note: The image of the post is a detail from the cover of the Greek edition (Metaixmio, 2012) of the novel. It is very well translated by Cleopatra Elaiotriviari who also wrote the addendum.