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Francisco Ayala, RIP

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Another eminent centenarian buys the farm this week. Francisco Ayala has died at age 103.

Though Mr. Ayala wrote close to a hundred books, his work is little known in the United States. Much of it, both fiction and nonfiction, examines abuses of power, the nature of morality and the often irreconcilable tension in societies between the needs of the individual and those of the collective.

Only a few of his books have been published in the United States in English translation, and they are out of print. Among them is “Death as a Way of Life” (Macmillan, 1964; translated by Joan MacLean), originally published in Spanish in 1958 as “Muertes de Perro” — literally, “Deaths of a Dog.” An ironic satire, the novel is set in a fictionalized Latin American nation ruled by a dictator widely assumed to be modeled on Juan Perón, the former Argentine president.

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