Professor MacAdam’s area of specialization is twentieth-century Latin-American narrative, a subject on which he has published three books and numerous articles. He is also a translator of Latin-American fiction and has translated novels by Julio Cortázar, Reinaldo Arenas, Alejo Carpentier, José Donoso, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Osvaldo Soriano. From 1984 to 2004, MacAdam was the editor of Review: Latin American Literature and Arts, a publication of the Americas Society. This biannual magazine presents work by Latin-American writers not yet known to English-speaking audiences as well as unknown texts by already established writers.
In its characters, themes, and preoccupations, Final Exam prefigures Cortazar’s later fictions, including Blow-Up, and his masterpiece, Hopscotch. Written in 1950 (just before the fall of Peron’s government), it is Cortazar’s allegorical, bitter, and melancholy farewell to an Argentina from which he was about to be permanently self-exiled. (Cortazar moved to Paris the following year.) The setting is an eerie Buenos Aires that the books characters explore while being followed by a mysterious figure. With its daring typeography, its shifts in rhythm as well as in the wildly veering directions of its characters’ thoughts and speech, Final Exam breaks new ground in the territory of stream-of-conciousness narrative techniques. It is considered one of Cortazar’s best works.