The interconnected stories that form this novel take place in a Madrid as exotic as the Baghdad of the 1001 Arabian Nights and feature unforgettable characters in revolt against their young author. “For them,” he complains, “reality is what fiction is to real people.”
First published in 1936 and long neglected, this elegantly inventive novel anticipates works like Pale Fire and One Hundred Years of Solitude. In Locos, Felipe Alfau creates a mercurial dreamscape in which the characters—the eccentric and sometimes criminal crowd around Toledo’s Cafe of the Crazy—wrench free of his control, invade unrelated stories, and even usurp each other’s identities.
Spanish novelist and poet Felipe Alfau (1902-1999) was born in Barcelona, made his living as a translator, and wrote two novels in English, Chromos and Locos. His work was largely ignored during his lifetime: he made $250 for Locos, and Chromos sat in a desk drawer from 1948 to 1990. On publication, it was nominated for the 1990 National Book Award. Alfau died in a New York City nursing home in 1999.