Ariel Dorfman (äryĕl´ dôrf´män), 1942–, Chilean novelist, playwright, essayist, and journalist, b. Argentina. Dorfman's family moved to the United States shortly after his birth, settling in Chile in 1954. He attended and was later a professor at the Univ. of Chile. Forced into exile following the Chilean military coup of 1973, he has divided his time between Santiago and the United States since the restoration (1990) of democracy in his homeland; since 1985 he has taught at Duke Univ. Dorfman has written powerful fiction often dealing with the horrors of tyranny and, in later works, the trials of exile. His novels include Widows (1981; tr. 1983), The Late Song of Manuel Sendero (1983; tr. 1987), My House Is on Fire (1990), and The Nanny and the Iceberg (1999). He also has written poetry and essays focusing on the terror of dictatorship. His psychologically complex thriller Mascara (1988) was simultaneously published in English and Spanish. Taking retribution and reconciliation as its themes, his best-known work, the play Death and the Maiden (1992), deals with political torture and its aftereffects; Dorfman also wrote the screenplay for the 1994 film. Political repression forms the theme of his 1995 play, the chilling Reader.
See his memoirs, Heading South, Looking North: A Bilingual Journey (1998) and Feeding on Dreams (2011); P. Reymont, dir., A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman (documentary, 2007).