Final Exam by Julio Cortázar
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.